apparently my little disclaimer in the beginning of the kick-ass review came off as a pretentious condescending statement against teenage picture books to some people. even though during which i clearly stated that it’s simply not my favorite medium for storytelling; a personal preference, neither a good or bad thing. but people are going to take away whatever they feel regardless of what you wrote or said whether you intended them to or not, just ask the white house via fox news, j.d. salinger, jodie foster, our fonding fathers, or authors of religious texts. i could list my favorite movies based on said picture books, but that would be giving in and putting myself in a defensive position, which is rather silly for a diary that’s never gotten up to a three digit number readership on any given day. and i don’t believe in any rules or policies in movies either(it’s true: nobody knows anything). anyone can write something hyperbolic(video games are not art! this is the worst year in movies! movies are worst than ever! what happened to originality?!) and get comments, create controversies, or get published. no, i don’t think sequels/remakes are always worse than their original sources, foreign/indies are always better than big budget tentpoles, direct-to-video is always worse than theatricals(nor do i believe in the slippery slope of men marrying animals or the phrase “guns don’t kill people people kill people” actually means anything). movies, like people, are mostly in the big middle part, with a few geniuses on top and idiots below.
man, that got out of hands quick. anyway, scott pilgrim vs. the world, like kick-ass, is also based on a comically picturesque book/novel with pictures. it’s the other 2010 movie that fanboys can’t shut up about(see also: inception, the social network). while kick-ass was based on your traditional american picture books, scott pilgrim: the picture books, is about the size of japanese picture books, or manga, if you’re nerdy. my research shows that it’s not actually from japan. but that makes it cooler because, well it’s foreign. much the same way those asshole hipsters with ironical™ beards and mustaches who claim to like foreign films or local music. simple geography or just because it’s a section in your douchy movie/music store doesn’t necessarily make it a genre. and as long as you’re not asian, liking asian things is still very in, as it has been for about two decades. like asian character tattoos, animes, or eastern religions. scott pilgrim also kinda have an asian girlfriend, it doesn’t get any hipster emo than that. it makes you cultured and worldly in an instant. it used to work via european, then native american, than asian, nowadays it leans towards indians and/or middle eastern. take your pick.
my expectation was pretty low since, A. the fanboys won’t shut up about how great it is; 2. it stars michael cera as the titled character; and thirdly, after kick-ass (and iron man 2), movies based on picture books can’t seem to stand on their own as movies. my only glimpse of hope was that edgar wright is directing.
turns out this is one of those rare cases that the movie turns out better than i thought, and i think most of the credit goes to the director. somehow he managed to make michael cera’s usual whinny emo character not annoying. kieran culkin playing what robert downey jr. would have played in the 80s as scott pilgrim’s gay roommate steals every scene he’s in. the chris “fantastic fours, the losers, push (the action scifi movie not based on the sapphire novel)” evans has a fun bit as a big action movie star. wright also throw in quite an amazing array of creative touches(looove the seinfeld bit, and the vegan bit) that makes the movie way more entertaining than it should have been.
but those only last about 50 minutes or so. much like how nic cage can’t save kick-ass, there’s so much edgar wright can do before the movie takes a nosedive. like easy a, what’s best here is everything that’s outside of what the premise requires. since early on we know he has to fight seven evil exes, there’s really nothing the movie can do to avoid those required battles. only the first two or three are interesting to watch. after that you just want it to be over. yes, we get it. it’s like a video game, coins to be collected after emo boy wins a battle. it’s fun in a video game because you are actually playing it. but watching someone play a fighting game, not so much.
there are also a lot of things in the movie that i don’t quite get. one of his bandmates’ name is young neil, or neil young, i don’t know why that would be interesting or funny or important as a reference, or an in-joke. yes, neil young is canadian, i think they all are. am i supposed to laugh or something. scott pilgrim has the same initial as smashing pumpkins, so he wears a shirt with the smashing pumpkins logo or the zero shirt. interesting? funny? are those intended references to eternal sunshine, a much better movie? do you really want to compare your based-on-picture-book movie to a written-by-charlie-kaufman movie less than a decade old? maybe it’s canadian humour.
scott pilgrim and ramona are about as convincing a couple as say, juno and cera, or ben affleck and sandra bullock. she always seems more like an older sister or babysister to cera than an actual couple. but this actually works in the movie’s favor since it’s not supposed to be as realistic as those movies. of course he’s an emo indie pussy who’s in a band(who isn’t these days). of course she has purple hair. of course she’s had a girlfriend(ooooh shocking). are they supposed to be together at the end? i don’t think edgar wright is entirely convinced.
it could have been the most creative movie of the year if it were an hour long. too bad it has that last 40 minutes so the movie can resolve its weak premise and conclude with a happy ending.