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Friday Film Review: Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Scott Pilgrim vs The World (2010)
Genre: Graphic novel romance
Grade: B+

I just finished watching this and TBH am not totally sure what the fuck I just saw. But it sure was entertaining. It looks like a graphic novel x comic book x video game. It’s got great dialogue, great visuals and I know I’m gonna want to see it again. Especially since I saw one of the new rental discs that come with no stinking extras! I hate that.

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) who is the bassist for the struggling rock band Sex Bob-Ombs, has a pretend new girlfriend Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) a seventeen year old high school student. But he keeps having dreams featuring a woman he doesn’t know who he then meets at a local party. Feeling that Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is the one for him, he sort of cheats on Knives before finally breaking up with her to date Ramona. But Ramona has baggage – who’s dated and broken up doesn’t? – and Scott will have to defeat her exes – actually the League of Seven Evil Exes – if they are going to continue to date. Has Scott got it in him? Will the Sex Bob-Ombs finally get their record deal? Will Scott come clean with Knives and deal with his own exes? And will Scott’s gay roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin) kick Scott out in order to have the apartment?

I think this is a movie to love or hate. I came to it with no background and never having seen the graphic novels upon which it’s based so for me, it’s love. Though I still don’t totally know WTF I just saw. It’s directed by Edgar Wright and even beyond the graphic visuals I can still tell his style which works great here. It’s loaded with fantastic LOL dialogue – one of my favs is when Scott says he “kicked him so hard he saw the curvature of the Earth” – comic panel flashback sequences, an Announcer and Game Score.

There’s fighting galore, complete with POW! AAAAAA, K.0.!, and other comic book depictions of hits, but no matter how many walls or ceilings he’s WHUMPED! through, Scott never appears to get hurt. The Evil Exes are, of course, another matter and I loved the ways that Scott defeats them from a Bollywood dance fight, to a skateboard grindy thingy, to half-and-half, to a knee tickle during the girlongirl action, to amp vs amp – which counts for two Exes as Ramona was dating twins, to a video game take down complete with a 2XBonus round and Knives joining in the fight.

The visuals are also great. Watch for the roulette wheel possible answers to a question: “She’s Nobody”, “She’s Forty!”, “Idiot!”, “No Speaka English”, “When’s Dinner”, “Uhh…”, “Tell Pac Man Story”, “No, You Are”, “Pass Out”, “It Was Nothing”, “Who Her?” and “I Gotta Pee”. And the meter which goes from “No Clue” through “Gets It.” The real DVD, as opposed to the rental, also seems to have tons of extras including lots of commentaries, deleted scenes, bloopers and a trivia track among others. Did I mention how pissed I am about the new rentals without these? Oh, and listen out for the Seinfield and Universal Studios themes. Oh, oh and the [Bleeping] that kept the rating to PG-13. Fucking hilarious. And I can write that since we don’t have a rating here.

The film is not just about cool visuals, fights! and laughs though. Scott does learn something at the end and it’s only then that he’s free to move on in his life and hopefully enjoy what he’s gained. Or you can just ignore that bit if you want ’cause it’s only at the very end. I haven’t seen too many graphic novel –> movie adaptations (300 was a bomb for me) but this movie reverses my “nevah gonna watch any of these things again” stance. Now I must go out and locate a DVD copy with the damn extras!

~Jayne – so who’s your favorite Evil Ex?

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

21 Comments

  1. Evelyn
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 05:10:33

    I love that movie! Check out Edgar Wright’s other movie, like the 2/3s of the Cornetto Trilogy – “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”. They’re pretty good as well.

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  2. Jayne
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 05:46:09

    @Evelyn: Yes, indeed! I love Shaun and Fuzz!

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  3. LG
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 06:33:00

    Oh, I really need to get this movie. I saw it in the theaters and loved it. My favorite Evil Ex was the telepathic vegan.

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  4. Jayne
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 07:03:55

    @LG: The ovo-lacto vegetarian! “Being vegan makes you better than most people.”

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  5. Bronte
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 07:24:07

    I sat through this movie for Chris Evans. It stands as the only Chris Evans film I’ve not really enjoyed. Funny, I really enjoyed 300, in all its campy goodness. Horses for courses I guess….

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  6. Variel
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 08:22:25

    I watched the film before reading the graphic novels. The movie stays true to the series in style and content. A lot of the dialogue is lifted straight from the books. Both the graphics novels and the special edition DvD grace my shelves and are one of those rare go to items when I need to laugh.

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  7. Minx Malone
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 08:47:27

    Honestly, I was surprised by how funny this movie was. I’m not a graphic novel fan so I haven’t read the books but this was refreshing and unique in a way that movies just AREN’T anymore. I feel like everything in Hollywood is just a copy of something else.

    This felt quirky and offbeat, like a peek into the mind of an evil genius. Oh and the “bi-curious, bi-furious” ex was hysterical. You were right about the dialogue being spot-on.

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  8. Jayne
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 08:56:05

    @Minx Malone: “Refreshing and unique” are perfect descriptions for it. Though I’m sure someone will try and copy it soon.

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  9. LG
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 09:09:45

    @Jayne: I haven’t seen Sucker Punch, but, from what I’ve read about it, it sounds like it was like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World in some ways, so maybe copying has already been attempted.

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  10. Bettie
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 09:54:07

    LG: Things Sucker Punch has in common with SPvsTW: both feature moving pictures with synchronized sound. SPvsTW has good writing, directing, acting, pacing, effects, and character development. Sucker Punch has pretty girls in short skirts.

    My fave: the Vegan Evil Ex

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  11. LG
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 10:04:04

    @Bettie: All of which just makes me feel better about not having seen it. It seemed like Sucker Punch was always being compared to Scott Pilgrim in reviews (and coming up short), so I figured this was one of those instances where Hollywood sheep saw something good, tried to copy it, and failed miserably.

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  12. John
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 12:13:21

    *claps* Oh, I’ve wanted to talk with you about this movie for ages. I saw it on my theater group’s Guy’s Night sleepover and fell in love. I bought a Blueray and have probably watched it six times over the last year or so. It’s just that good.

    I never read the graphic novels, but I loved how they incorporated the art style. All of the jokes were funny, too, which was a plus. I still can’t control myself over the ‘Pee bar’ or the moment where his wheel gets stuck and he shouts, “I have to pee on her.” Oh, and the scene where Wallace goes, “The ‘L’ word.” “Lesbian?” “The other ‘L’ word.” “Lesbians?” And how it comes back to haunt him later…

    Just wonderful. What’s great is that (I think Candy from Smart Bitches did a piece on this) it’s a guy’s romance. Everyone at guy’s night was shouting at the end when he almost didn’t go with Ramona.

    Have you watched Easy A yet? It was another great movie aimed at teens/college kids that I think hit a lot of great marks with humor.

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  13. Ridley
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 12:48:29

    I loved, *loved* this movie, but I wasn’t sure how appealing it would be to people who didn’t grow up in the 80s. A huge part of the appeal to me were all the 8-bit videogame references. I just felt like I was watching a beautiful in-joke meant just for me.

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  14. Antonia
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 17:27:40

    What a coincidence! I saw this movie yesterday and enjoyed it tremendously. Chris Evans is my favorite ex.

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  15. sarah mayberry
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 19:25:43

    Jayne, like you I saw this with no background or expectations. Both me and my man were blown away (and he works in the film/tv industry). We thought it was the first really innovative new idea in film for a long time. Really entertaining and different and funny. Romantic? Not so much. But I laughed and was delighted many, many times by how inventive it all was. And some of the dialogue is hilarious. My favourite ex was the angry lesbian girl, but my favourite fight was the first one in the club.

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  16. Rei
    Jul 30, 2011 @ 10:20:36

    I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, given how glowing all the commentary has been so far, but I…I really hate this film. I grew up in the 90s rather than the 80s, so maybe some of the references were lost on me, but that wasn’t why I didn’t like it, although it can’t have helped.

    I just didn’t like Scott Pilgrim himself at all. He seemed like a complete jerk who ended the film without any sense of exactly how much of a jerk he had been, because hey, all he needs to defeat the bad guys is self-respect, so who cares whether or not he actually treats people decently? And I hated how stereotypical the evil exes were (the Japanese techo guys! the angry lesbian who of course Ramona was only with out of curiosity and whose kryptonite is being touched by a guy!) and…well, to be honest with you, apart from Big Boss Evil Ex, what really made them evil? Besides having had the gall to date Ramona and not have it work out? Why were they fighting?

    For me it was just irritating. And the bits that weren’t irritating, I found boring – and as a lifelong geek myself, I *like* geek humour. The cinematography was pretty, but the dialogue did nothing for me and the characters and plot ranged from flat to just plain offensive.

    So. Um. Sorry. I do actually feel bad about how much I dislike this film, because a lot of work clearly went into it. You can almost see the producers trying. And I can see why a lot of the things that for me were insurmountable obstacles to my enjoyment of it would only be stumbling blocks to other people. But I couldn’t stand it.

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  17. Jayne
    Jul 30, 2011 @ 12:02:09

    @John: I have seen Easy A and regret to say I thought it was okay but not much more. It’s a movie I wanted to like but for some reason, it just didn’t totally click for me.

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  18. Jayne
    Jul 30, 2011 @ 12:06:43

    @Rei: No need to feel bad about not liking it and please don’t hesitate to say what you feel.

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  19. John
    Jul 30, 2011 @ 12:15:20

    @Jayne: That happens. For me, it worked because I pretty much *am* the main character in many aspects. It also has that teen movie appeal ala Mean Girls and the Heathers, but at the same time it’s not the same type of humor.

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  20. P. Kirby
    Aug 01, 2011 @ 10:47:09

    @Rei. I’m with you. This despite the fact that I grew up in the 80s and got all the references. And I’m a comic book geek.

    Like you, I thought Scott was a jerk and the humor…? Well, the script just seemed to be trying to hard. Hubby and I saw this movie and Kick Ass within a week of each other. It was Kick Ass, not SPvtW that we ended up buying and watching over and over.

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  21. Vuir
    Aug 02, 2011 @ 08:40:53

    @Rei: It was an erogenous zone that killed the lesbian – didn’t matter who touched her.

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