Sunday, May 11, 2014

Overlooked Film of the Week- "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)

Overlooked Film of the Week- #56

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Part of the reason I started this blog was because I want to champion for movies I feel need to be seen. There are plenty of films that are released each year that do not get the coverage or attention I believe they need. In a world that is over-saturated by several tentpole genres, I like the smaller stuff, I love the festival fare that finally rolls around, and I love the movies that may not have boosted the box office but were awesome films nonetheless. A films box office earnings have never swayed my opinion of a movie, never has never will. Whether a movie can make money or not is irrelevant. What I look for in a movie is personal enjoyment, plain and simple. That is the way it should be if you ask me.

I hope a few years from now, “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” develops a great cult following and that it continues to touch the hearts of so many film lovers, kind of like how it did for me. This movie came out in the summer of 2010, and vanished without a trace. It didn’t make tons of cash that summer, but it still made an impression on me this year. It was a movie that was better than most of the films that came out that year, and after watching it again last night after a slight hiatus, I find that it still dazzles. It still has the power to evoke incredible emotions from me. Not bad for a movie about a guy who fights seven evil exes to his “new new” girlfriend in hyper-stylized manners.

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is a 22-year-old Canadian boy, who leads a life that is interesting to say the least. He’s a freeloader who never seems to be working anywhere, he is dating a 17-year-old high school girl, he plays bass in a garage rock band, and he constantly seems stressed out by something. One night he sees a beautiful woman in his dreams (literally, his dreams) and he is destined to find her. Luckily enough, he sees this girl at a party, her name is Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and he’s incredibly smitten with her. Despite being warned of certain danger involved in dating her, Scott cannot resist her; she is of course the woman of his dreams. Eventually, he is able to win her over, which has severe consequences for Scott. Not only does he have to break-up with his 17-year-old high school girlfriend, he has to defeat Ramona’s seven evil exes in order to go out with her.

This may sound like a crazy idea for a movie, and it certainly is crazy. Not to mention that the fights are overly-stylized, hyper-kinetically charged battles. “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” was based on a manga series, so it makes sense that some stuff in the movie defies gravity or logical convention for that matter. One thing I love about this movie is that it completely embraced living in a comic book world, something most other movies of this type never do. To every detail, this movie reflects a world completely unlike our world, but that is all part of the style and fun of it all. Director Edgar Wright adapted the whole Scott Pilgrim series into one film, making impossible to turn this into a series, but Wright told a worthwhile story through the all of Scott Pilgrim’s subject matter.

Sometimes something may look slick and surreal on the surface, but has a story anybody on Earth could relate to. “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,” is one of those movies. The film reflects great insight on how we enter relationships, how baggage from other relationships can filter through new ones and how two people grow as a relationship begins to flourish. Sure, there are people beating each other up, video game style, but that is all to drive the metaphor home. Everybody in this world approaches a relationship in a different way, and every previous relationship impacts somebody, no matter how big or small it was. “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” offers fresh and unique tale on relationships and how they can sometimes drive us nuts in the beginning. There was definitely a lot here that I personally could relate too, which is amazing considering the subject matter.

Insightful story aside, “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” is mesmerizing on so many different levels. There are more pop culture references and parodies to shake a good stick at. Most of the parodies are made on the video game world, and that is all a lot of fun. The story itself kind of reflects a video game, so it’s interesting how video game conventions and the story paralleled so well. “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” also features one of the best soundtracks in recent memory for a movie. The music written by Beck is absolutely outstanding and the rest of the bands featured in the film do very well. Some of Beck’s songs are redone by Scott Pilgrim’s band in the movie, known as Sex Bob-Omb (get it?), and they are terrific. All of the technical aspects of “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” are a treat and only enrich the experience as a whole.
The performances…wow, that’s all that I can say. It is not every day when you come across a film that features tons of memorably awesome characters. The work by Cera and Winstead is awesome, it was great to finally see Cera not being typical Cera, and he’s real good at it by the way. Ellen Wong plays Knives Chau, the 17-year-old girlfriend of Scott Pilgrim. Wong is adorable and hilarious as Chau and has some big scenes that she absolutely nails. I love Pilgrim’s gay roommate Wallace played by Kieran Culkin, and I particularly loved that he was not the typical, stereotypical gay roommate we usually see in movies. Anna Kendrick plays Pilgrims sister and Aubrey Plaza plays Julie, a “friend” of Pilgrims and they both do great work here. I also love Alison Pill, Mark Webber and Johnny Simmons who play Pilgrims band-mates  all of whom have an interesting history with Scott.

Then there are the evil exes, and I love that each of the seven has a unique personality. I didn’t like that the Katayanagi twins are the only exes who are never fleshed out as characters, but oh well. Chris Evans, Brandon Routh and Jason Schwartzmann are the three most popular names among the evil exes and all three do great work. I also love the small but substantial work done by Satya Bhabha and Mae Whitman, who are the last to round out the evil exes. Each evil ex is an incredibly foil for Scott and I love each of them in a different way. Also look for cameos by Thomas Jane and Clifton Collins Jr. as Vegan Police officers, and you’ll have to actually see the movie to find out what that means.

I think a film like “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” is a classic. I think it’s a great example of a movie that may not have been a box office smash, but was something worth seeing. It’s a movie that you could really relate to if you gave it a chance. Plus, it’s a rock-n-roll, stylish adventure that will be hard to shake for weeks. Just because something makes a certain amount of money, doesn't mean it is worth your time and vice versa.

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