Thursday, 11 April 2013

Scott Pilgrim vs The World (2010)

Numerous times across the internet, I've seen Scott Pilgrim vs The World touted as many things: an under-appreciated diamond, a future cult classic and the best comic book adaptation so far. Looking forward to something quite so lauded left me sorely disappointed.

The basic gist of it is that Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), still reeling over his last girlfriend dumping him, meets the exciting Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and is whisked off his feet. Unluckily for Scott, Ramona has a chequered past in terms of her love life, and he must battle his way through seven evil exes to win the right to be with her (which, by the way, is a pretty messed up concept).

Director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) made a boatload of bad decisions. I haven't read the comic/graphic novel, because frankly they don't interest me, so he might be doing a very accurate portrayal but Michael Cera as Scott just doesn't work. The character is inherently unlikeable unless you essentially are him. He is awkward, completely socially inept, and devoid of any shred of confidence or self-respect. Yet somehow, he has apparently had a series of girls falling at his feet in his past in a manner that doesn't make sense given his self hating personality and also should probably have resulted in someone who doesn't think everyone hates them. His understanding of how the world works in regards to people and emotions is just crazily stunted.

It's symptomatic of the problem with the film as a whole though. The overwhelming problem is that it's just completely childish, in every bad sense of the word. Everything from the styling to the script (especially any dialogue involving Scott) just feels like it was thrown together by those emo kids you went to secondary school with who were obsessed with things being "totally random" and related everything to a videogame they had played. I understand that the videogame angle is the film's entire schtick, but it just just feels forced and doesn't gel at all with the Toronto setting. Many films do a contrast of crazy elements to those that are more mundane but Scott Pilgrim is no one of them.

Every character exists in a state that verges on the ridiculous, and their only purpose is to serve Scott in some way. Barring Scott's love interest, nobody seems to understand how actual people interact or how healthy relationships (of all kinds) seem to work. The most grounded and believable character is the one who occasionally wears goggles on her head for no reason and has a league of obsessed past lovers with videogame superpowers in tow. Read that sentence again for some perspective.

From its attitudes to women, relationships, violence and just generally everything, Scott Pilgrim vs The World creates a film that just doesn't work for someone like me. If you're into the whole hyper stylised approach with Michael Cera's typical awkward style of "humour" you'll probably be into SPvTW if you don't think about it too much. If I've learned anything from this it's that 1) Edgar Wright really needs the input of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost 2) great special effects can't save a film  3) Mary Elizabeth Winstead almost can.

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