' Cinema Romantico: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

"Love Is A Battlefield." That's what Pat Benetar sang. That's what "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" proves. Oh, love can be the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees and all that too, sure, but mostly it's a battlefield. Mostly you meet a girl you really like and you think she's likely the one except then you spot another girl - probably one with colored hair - and instantly you know that she's the one but since she's the one the universe is not going to allow earning her love to be so easy. I mean, why would it? Are you kidding me? Nope, she's gonna have, I don't know, say, seven ex-boyfriends, seven evil ex-boyfriends, and they are all gonna be out to get you and whether literally or figuratively you're gonna have to fight your way through them to get the woman of your dreams.  Based on a series of graphic novels by Bryan Lee O'Malley and directed by Edgar Wright with enough gusto to match the new & improved Dynamism 96 Hour Energy Drink, "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" remains heartfelt while still moving like a zip line.


Michael Cera, who always "seem(s) to act within a certain range", which are the exact words the esteemed Roger Ebert once used to describe Humphrey Bogart who the American Film Institute named the greatest male star in American cinema history (so can we please stop having the tired conversation about Michael Cera's range?), is our title character, a geeky, soft-spoken bassist in a burgeoning band whose punch apparently packs a mighty wallop, and dating the liltingly named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) which is problematic because Scott is 22 and Knives is 17. Scott, it seems, has an unfortunate habit of spurning his girlfriends without considering the ramifications of his actions and, well, when he first spies Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, gracefully punk), whom we know is worthy of our hero because she is leaning up against a wall at party, alone and disinterested, he fails to consider the ramifications of his actions and, much to the chagrin of his roommate Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin, understatedly hilarious) and his sister Stacey (Anna Kendrick, insanely luminous), neglects Knives as he kinda begins to court Ramona which leads to a moment when he is face-to-face with both of them and, thus, turns and flees which was a moment of harried loserdom to which I could totally relate.

But soon Scott will have to man up and finally face the consequences of his actions when Ramona advises he might have to fight her seven evil exes to date her, though might appears to the superfluous word in that sentence. He will have to fight them. And he does. These are escalating encounters of absurdity that find him taking on skateboarders and psychic vegans and his ex-girlfriend from "Arrested Development" ("Way to plant, Ann") and the suave but dastardly Gideon (Jason Schwartzman) who, frankly, seems to way too douchey for a hip cat like Ramona to have ever even considered dating but, you know, maybe she just got trapped by his love and got chained to his side.

It's difficult to describe just how entertaining all this is, not just the finer points of the plot but all the acting and directing asides, the swirling but unconfusing editing, the constant switching of locales, the grabbag of nice little one-liners, and most especially the way the film acknowledges its own ridiculous nature and then remains consistent in it without ever having to ironically comment on it.  It's a little overlong as a whole and those fight scenes are definitely overlong but then that might just be me since I'm not really a video game guy which just so happens to bring me to my main point.

I once answered the door at an apartment where I lived many, many years ago and the guy at the door asked if one of my roommates was home because they had plans to go "gaming" and, well, I'm not gonna lie - this guy at the door freaked me out.  I don't much care for that whole gaming culture and I don't like video games.  Not in the slightest.  I've never really liked video games.  The last video game console I had was an Atari.  But you know what?  I loved "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World."

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