Scott Pilgrim’s reasonably unsuccessful run in US cinemas is rather surprising, to say the least. In two weeks of release, it’s only made around $25 million US compared to its $60 million budget. It’s surprising because a: it features Michael Cera, and b: it’s a comic book movie – two things that up until recently were almost always sure-fire signs of a winner.
There are plenty of theories – Cera fatigue being one of them – however I think that this is a film that’s simply too geeky for a mainstream audience. Anyone, whether they read comics or not, is happy to see Robert Downey Jr. be a genius playboy millionaire, but a film that’s based on a comic infatuated with video game and comic conventions is a little too much to ask. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is clearly made for me. Well, the end of the Gen Xs and all of the Gen Ys. It’s so steeped in anime, 80s video games and 90s music that anyone much older will possibly feel left out.
The first wonderful surprise that appeared in this film is that Scott is a bit of an arsehole. Sure, Michael Cera still plays him with the hopeless awkwardness that we’re all familiar with, but whilst he pretends to be shy and unconfident, he’s actually got a really bad reputation of breaking hearts. When he meets Ramona Flowers, literally the girl of his dreams, Scott goes about winning her over in completely the wrong way. To make matters worse, both their pasts come back to haunt them, and there is a lot they will both need to overcome if they’ve any chance of making it work.
This film is an absolute hoot. It’s fast paced (and like all of Edgar Wright’s films, the editing punches you in the face every chance it gets), witty and filled with glorious comic book inspired action scenes, complete with onscreen sound effects text. Does anyone remember the fight scene near the end of Speed Racer that was actually pretty cool? (Probably not – very few people made it through that movie). Well, that kind of manga-inspired stuff is all through Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
The cast are truly wonderful. Every single character (and there are heaps of them) is perfectly performed, and each so unique. Whilst Cera is the focus, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is great as the aloof yet totally cool Ramona. It’s hard to pick standouts from such a fantastic ensemble, but my favourites include Alison Pill as Scott’s ex and drummer in his band, Kieran Culkin as Scott’s gay roommate, and Ellen Wong as Knives Chau, Scott’s high school girlfriend.
In the end, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World doesn’t quite hit all the right notes – I’m not sure exactly what the moral of the story is (other than don’t be a dick) but it is a nice exaggerated exploration of the baggage people bring into new relationships and male insecurity in the face of female sexuality (something we haven’t really seen explored much since Chasing Amy.)
If you want a hilarious and action-packed dose of geekiness, then Edgar Wright’s got the goods.Rating: