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Saturday, August 14, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

If cinematic originality is suffering, like so many internet trolling experts say, then my reply would be that it’s not always how original the story is, but how you tell it. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is an example of that reply biting me in the ass. The age-old story of a warrior battling for his true love is retold as a video game/comic book hybrid. I was originally interested in this idea and the prospect of another comedy by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz). I was even willing to set aside my hatred for Michael Cera and Beck Hanson to enjoy this film. But try as I might I just couldn’t embrace Scott Pilgrim.

When Scott Pilgrim cheats on his current girlfriend for the mysterious Ramona, karma catches up with him in the form of her seven evil exes. From there he goes through each ex, fighting for Ramona while trying to maintain a relationship with his band and roommate.

As if it were hard to choose, the best part about Scott Pilgrim is the nerd driven battles. Piled with video game nods ranging from Guitar Hero to Street Fighter, these fight scenes aren’t only creative acid trips, but hard hitting action sequences too. When Pilgrim smashed his fist in to the first “evil ex” I was really impressed with the way the visuals made me feel the impact. It makes me wonder if the wire-fu from the Matrix Trilogy is going to stand the test of time. Oh, yeah, and they’re pretty damn funny too. The fight with a vegan Brandon Routh peeks when Thomas Jane and Cliff Collins Jr. make a cameo as the “Vegan Academy” security. Brillant.

But beyond the ball breaking action scenes lies Michael Cera who was terribly miscast as Scott Pilgrim, a character far too confident to carry Cera’s trademark inelegance. (Or as I like to call, dumbassery.) Not that the writing is particularly excellent anyway. It tries to be quick and witty, but it’s handicapped by painful moments of awkward humor that made me shrivel up in my chair and wish I was watching any other movie. Why is it that Cera is a magnet for these types of moments? Is it in his contract to implement the clumsiest, eyeball puncturing moments in every movie he pollutes?

Oh, but Cera isn’t the only one to blame. There are plenty of poor actors in this movie and if it weren’t for the quick editing none of the lines would be saved. But should they be saved? It’s never a good thing when I’m halfway through a film and want to take an axe to the run time. What purpose did Pilgrim’s first meeting with the lesbian ex serve? It actually ruins the fact Ramona dated a girl. (Spoiler) Then there’s the long exposition between her and Scott. Why? This is a movie with a guy fighting a league of evil exes not My Fair Lady. Oh, right! I nearly forgot. What would we do without those important shots of Cera embarrassing himself? How would the world turn?

If you feel the need to see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, I’ll grant you can do a lot worse this summer. But it’s not much of an improvement either. It’s an overly long venture in high-octane special effects mixed with misfired humor and the occasional L.O.L. I can understand the need to do something different; to do something fun and to try something new. I can even appreciate the effort. But when the result is as alienating as this film what did it accomplish? Mr. Wright, you’re too good for this. P.S. Dear Beck, stop. Just stop it.

** out of ****

1 comment:

alesum said...

I take my hat off to the author of this article. Well done.