Friday, August 13, 2010

Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim vs the World

Honestly, I liked it a lot. I know the review may sound somewhat suspect, but bear in mind I've been reading a month's worth of sloppy-kiss reviews from critics who I swear on my life called it incredibly important. Nothing like overselling the shit out of something you love. I don't blame them, I just don't all the way agree. It's a great movie, it is. I'll probably see it again on video, maybe even own it. I just don't, you know, want to take it back behind the school and get it pregnant, to borrow a Tracy Jordan expression. Here's the review.

It’s Hipster to Care
Scott Pilgrim vs the World loves fights and fights for love

If an 8-bit video game got an indie romantic comedy pregnant, Scott Pilgrim vs the World would be their offspring: whiney but infinitely lovable. Spastically working the modern zeitgeist like a stripper’s pole, SPVTW alternates between slapping hipsters in the face and giving them a sexytime lap dance. Nowhere near as groundbreaking as declaimed by internet-based critics, who just-so-happen to fall into the target demographic, it is an inarguable visual romp, a giddy seizure that’s almost as endearing as it thinks it is.

Working from the graphic novels by Brian Lee O’Malley, screenwriter Michael Bacall and writer/director Edgar Wright just assume we’ll like Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), presumably because he has poofy hair and familiar neuroses, despite giving us no real reason to do so. Although 22, Scott is dating a 17-year-old named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), a chaste union lamented by his sardonic gay roommate, Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin), and Scott’s sister, Stacey (Anna Kendrick). When he falls for Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the dreamiest, most manically pixied of all manic pixie dream girls, she somehow indulges the whelp, a decision made befuddling by Cera’s resplendent asexuality.

The insanity dial on the reality amp is turned to 11 when Scott must fight Ramona’s seven evil exes, “Street Fighter” style. These include guyliner-enthusiast Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha), skateboarder-turned-movie-star Lucas Lee (Chris Evans), bicurious-enabler Roxy Richter (Mae Whitman), vegan-rock-god Todd Ingram (Brandon Routh), electronica-dispensing twins Kyle (Keita Saitou) and Ken Katayanagi (Shota Saito) and the love kingpin Gideon (Jason Schwartzman). With nearly every scene evolving into a split-screen brawl, complete with animated “smacks” and “KOs” flying every which way, it’s easier to develop epilepsy than boredom.

Wright’s “screw it, let’s put it in there” direction is so hyper as to obscure issues like Cera’s increasingly grating self-imitation and Wallace’s stereotypical gay partner switching. Winstead does the best acting work here, somehow making her droll, insane-baggage-toting, anime-eyed love interest captivating. If only we could believe she’d be curious about Cera’s boy parts.

What holds it all together is delightful fight choreography performed by hipsters combined with a wink-and-nod awareness, like Todd being granted superpowers due to his vegan lifestyle, which makes him “better than you.” Perhaps it’s that SPVTW too accurately channels modern youth, with all its arrogance, that soils it a bit. Nonetheless, you can’t resist a film that sports a bitchin’ soundtrack, young love and bad guys who turn into a pile of coins when you punch their heads off.

Grade = B+

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Anonymous Andrew said...

How did it compare to the Book(s)? I was curious if Cera could pull off Scott's Lazy-to-Anrgy-to-Lazy mood swings.

Regardless, I'm excited to see a movie that has split critics by so consitently by age.

August 13, 2010  
Blogger Ryan said...

You know, honestly, Cera didn't pull off much of anything. He ranged from neutered to neutered and slightly louder to neutered and slightly quieter. He's schtick is done. I actually wish they had gone with less on-the-nose casting. You know who were great but I didn't have time in the review to expand? Routh and Evans. They were INCREDIBLY good. Schwartzman was weird because he somehow played a guy you're supposed to hate for being slimy and arrogant in a way that made me kind of hate Schwartzman for being slimy and arrogant. It was odd. I am kind of in love with Winstead though. Oh, and if I'm judging as a movie and not a comic, there's no reason Chau should exist. She added an unnecessary 20 minutes.

August 13, 2010  

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