Scott Pilgrim vs the World Reviewed Really Quickly

…. It seems appropriate to review this film as quickly as possible. I would explain why, but there’s no time, which is its own explanation in a way. In non-linear summary: I liked it a lot more than expected. I got quite attached to the comics while under sedation in a hospital bed last year, and was skeptical that it could translate to the screen without being, er…. surplus to requirements. The film, though, is winningly funny, with much of the smart-mouth dialogue lifted directly from Bryan Lee O’Malley’s pages; it’s edited to a whip-crack without getting tiresomely incomprehensible – its pace is a comedic device rather than a commercial need to cut to the chase (in the original sense of that phrase). Yes, it descends into …

…. a lot of fighting, which loses some of its novelty by the end, but director Edgar Wright is in complete control of every element here, or at least seems able to create the illusion of a film built around a unified sensibility. Such an approach makes sense, since the entire diegesis is moulded around the subjectivity of Scott Pilgrim himself. I’ll backtrack for you – Scott Pilgrim is a slacker-indie-romance movie (think In Search of a Midnight Kiss without the faux earnest navel scrutiny) mashed up with a martial arts extravaganza (think 8-Diagram Pole Fighter, and gawd bless ya if you know what I’m talking about) and glued together with bits of graphics from videogames that mostly come from a time when these characters were too young to be playing video games. Now, if you need a steer, the series of escalating combats Scott has to go through to conquer all of his new love Ramona Flowers’ seven evil exes are, in one sense, not really happening – they’re a parallel allegory (let’s call it a parallegory and be done with it, OK?) for his maturation, his overcoming of his feelings of jealousy, inferiority and insecurity and all the other -ities that get in the way in the early stages of new love. His sensorium is saturated with Nintendo and guitar-based rock, so we see his life …

…. played out as a series of levels, challenges and hyperbolic contests. In another sense, the film is taking place in a genre-drenched, cinematic hall of mirrors and it is therefore all very real and happening within that environment. There’s never a pull-back-and-reveal to show how things “really are”, no glimpse of the palimpsestic  everyday underneath the 8-bit cloak. That, for me, was the defining element of the comics: there was a joyous disregard for explanations. It wasn’t a “statement” about media-saturated young people filtering all their experiences through the videogame aesthetics that had automated their responses to their environments and social gatherings; it just was the way they lived and moved and had their being. If you need to ask yourself why these people are fighting, and why wussy Scott is suddenly an awesome, mangafied warrior 20-minutes in, you’re not getting something. And it’s probably nothing wrong with you. It’s just ….

….a groove you skipped. The colourful cartoony fights were all well and good, but the prologue and title sequence promise a tantalising scuzz that falls by the wayside in the onrush of brighter confections: I mourned the loss of the lovely brown lo-fi, monaural, fuzzboxed look and sound that starts the film. The jury’s out on Michael Cera – he’s quickly become one of those like-or-loathe actors for those who can be bothered to get themselves worked up about this sort of thing: he can dine out a little longer on my fond memories of Arrested Development (great to see Ann Veal making an appearance here, btw), and though I pictured someone louder and more obnoxious in the Pilgrim role, I can’t think of anyone else who could make the character likably wimpy. He did at times seem impossibly fey, so much so that you’ll wonder ….

….what Ramona sees in him, or how she manages to avoid snapping him in two with a sarcastic quip. This film might aspire to the emotional resonance of an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (right down to snowbound courtship and the passage of time marked by changes in hair colour), but it’s actually more sure-footed and successful when keeping step with a distracted mindset that shuttles its emotions back and forth, blows needless things out of proportion (hence the staging of petty jealousies as epic battles) and fails to notice bigger concerns outside its social circle. It doesn’t denigrate or patronise hyperstimulated, jaded youth. Instead, it just gives them what (thirtysomething artists and critics presume that) they want.

Did you get all that? Of course you did. You’re clever. Now give Alison Pill her own film. I could watch her shout and hit drums all day. Thanks for concentrating on this for 800 words (unless you skipped the big chunk of text near the top, which was the best bit anyway). Oh wait, I forgot to …

…Sponsored by Coke Zero.©

6 thoughts on “Scott Pilgrim vs the World Reviewed Really Quickly

  1. Pingback: Scott Pilgrim vs The Appendix | Kirsten Loza

  2. I enjoyed the movie! I love Ramona Flowers’ funky hair colours! I’m on my 4th volume and I can’t wait to finish them all :D

  3. Pingback: The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn | Spectacular Attractions

  4. Pingback: Midnight in Paris | Spectacular Attractions

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