Thursday, August 12, 2010
Portait of a Wimpy Geek as Superhero
I loved "Scott Pilgrim vs the World." so did all three of my daughters. Here's what I wrote.
For a movie based on a graphic novel and video game, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is awfully clever and entertaining.
Everybody’s favorite wimp, Michael Cera, plays the 22-year-old title character, a dreamy slacker who has no proper job but dreams of fame and fortune with his Toronto garage band, Sex Bob-omb.
In the band are guitarist Stephen Stills (Mark Webber) and drummer Kim Pine (Alison Pill).
If you know about rock culture, you know Stephen Stills as a famous guitarist, singer and songwriter. Equally famous is Canadian singer-guitarist Neil Young, who is referenced in Bryan Lee O’Malley (original story) and Michael Bacall's (screenwriter) script as Young Neil, Stephen’s roommate, played by Jeremy Simmons.
The plot is simplicity in itself. Scott encounters the girl of his dreams; a roller-blading, crazy hair dye Amazon.com delivery person named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and immediately falls for her.
This is despite the fact Scott already has a girlfriend, “Knives” Chau (Ellen Wong). Knives is only 17 and still in high school, and for that reason Scott gets razzed for robbing the cradle. His relationship is quite chaste however, and it is more a crush on Knives’ part.
Scott and Ramona are connected on some sort of intuitive, cosmic level, despite the fact Ramona is clearly out of Scott’s league.
There is a major roadblock to romantic happiness. Ramona has seven evil ex-boyfriends, and Scott must fight them all to win her hand.
And so the plot is basically an extended fight, with Scott facing a parade of challengers, with fight scenes enhanced by animation, graphics and video game visual and audio effects.
Now I can’t claim to be a part of video gaming, but I know a romantic underdog when I see one, and Michael Cera has that role down pat. The martial arts part is a lot harder to believe, but thanks to the magic of CG effects, Cera seems to rise (literally) to the occasion.
Credibility is not the strong suit for this or any comic book adventure. It’s all about fantasy, and director Edgar Wright blends sights, sounds, music and humor beautifully.
“Scott Pilgrim” is especially meaningful to anyone who has played in a band. I’ve been playing since I was an adolescent myself, and so have my daughters. I’m happy to report all three girls enjoyed this movie every bit as much as I did. A generation gap bridge as good as this does not come along often.