Monday, August 16, 2010

Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Let's get this out of the way first. I don't care for hipsters. They tend to be people who like something because it's trendy and then say that they themselves are trend-setters... or they take nostalgia to an obnoxious extreme. (Like those stupid Nintendo themed shirts from Hot Topic.) They move from one cool thing to the next, turning everything good and fun into something overexposed and boring. For example, Napoleon Dynamite or Tim Burton films.

What does that have to do with this movie? Well, Scott Pilgrim is one of those films destined to be a hipster film, and yet at the same time it sort of thumbs it's nose at hipsters at the same time. I mean, the movie even begins with an 8-bit version of the Universal logo complete with MIDI music. It makes one feel warm and fuzzy if you're 25, but I doubt anyone younger than 15 would get it. The movie also has Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) in an indie/punk band, dating a 17 yr old Chinese girl, sleeping (literally) with his gay roommate, and espousing the history of Pac-Man. What could be more hipster than that?! (A keytar maybe?)

I suppose a plot is justified, yes? Scott Pilgrim is 22 years old and lives in a studio apartment with his gay roommate (Kieran Culkin), sometimes sleeping beside both him and the roommate's man of the night. He's dating an Asian high school girl (Catholic, complete with uniform) and playing in his indie-punk band, Sex Bob-omb when a new girl, Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), an deliverygirl enters his life. Since Scott is something of an asshole, he tries to date both girls at the same time. Oh yeah, he's also got to face off against Ramona's ex-boyfriends who come at him in levels like in video games, and have even named themselves "The League of Exes." That's the crux of it anyway.

I originally wanted to see the movie just to watch Michael Cera get the crap beaten out of him, but was surprised out how much I liked the movie. I shouldn't have been as it's directed by Edgar Wright, who did both Shaun of The Dead and Hot Fuzz. This movie has the same interesting style of those two films, but I'd equate it more with the TV show that Wright did, Spaced. The pop culture references, the interesting editing style... The outlandish plots... It's all here in Scott Pilgrim too. For those of you who liked Zombieland with it's rules appearing on-screen during the film, well, this movie does the same type thing but better. Since the whole movie is filmed like a video game, you have RPG elements like a "Pee Bar" and combo attacks. I won't give away anymore about such things, because it's half of what makes the movie funny.

The movie is consistently funny, though it's not for everyone most likely. Since the film is based on nostalgia and pop culture references, it's probably purely for the late teen to thirties crowd. You know, the ones that were alive when Super Nintendo bit the dust, but young enough that there were always video games consoles. The movie has been called by some as a gamers' movie, and it is in some ways. It's a niche film with possible mass appeal though, like Napoleon Dynamite, but less annoying. It's potentially quotable, it's nerdy (which is hip now), it's based on a series of comics (and that's "in" now), and it's PG-13, which means this could be considered a classic in ten years by those who are 13 now. (Do we really want that though?)

I'm kind of worried that this is one of those comedies that only works after the first time if you're showing it to someone who hasn't seen it yet. That's not knocking the movie I suppose, as most comedies are stale after one viewing, though there are a few exceptions. I very much recommend seeing that one time though, if that's all you see it. It won't be in theaters long, as it's pretty much tanked it's opening weekend. Expect it to have strong DVD/Blu-Ray sales in a few months though, after the word of mouth gets around.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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