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Scott Pilgrim vs. the Moive Critic



First of all, the story. The plot of Scott Pilgrim is nearly identical to the plot in the novels, especially the first three in the series. Not only is much of the dialogue taken word-for-word, but the tone and visuals are very similar—the costumes, gestures, and set design are a perfect copy of what we see in the novels. Obviously this was a big reason as to why I warmed up right away to the movie. The clever and quick editing made it possible for all these elements to transfer as well as they did to the screen—while also giving the film a great rush of energy.




Now let's move onto the actors. I feel like I can rate them all on a scale of very good to excellent.  Michael Cera's portrayal of Scott initially felt very Michael Ceraesque, but he grew on me quickly. I think that Cera understood Scott's struggle and character really well: Scott is a nice guy that must evolve into a decent man. He played up Scott's  vulnerability, but he was also tough when the script called for it. Of the very awesome supporting cast, many stood out: Kieran Culkin as Wallace, Allison Pill as Kim, and Ellen Wong as Knives Chau (17 years old).  Culkin and Pill were hilarious and brought a lot to their respective roles, with Pill rather brilliantly underplaying her part. Wong seems to pouring her heart and soul into her performance as a lovestruck teen who wears her emotions on her sleeve. I personally also enjoyed Aubrey Plaza as Julie—there's a girl who can do simmering frustration well, speaking of emotions. Johnny Simmons also stuck out for me, as he brought to life a one-note character and made him more interesting.


Let's not forget the exes! They were all really incredible.  Of the League of Evil Exes, I think my favorite was Todd, as Brandon Routh (another in a line of handsome men with a great sense of humor) wisely chose to emphasize his
character's innate stupidity. Satya Bhabha as Matthew Patel adds a sense of theatricality to his character that improves on the book.  Meg Whitman was hilarious as Roxie/y, a character full of adorable pent-up aggression.  As for Scott's main ex, Brie Larson plays a slinky, extra-bitchy Envy Adams. While she doesn't stick around for long, she does get enough time to sing a song with her raw, sensuous voice.


There were a couple of characters that didn't get me as excited as I hoped were Ramona and Gideon. For some reason, I just remember Ramona being much cooler in the books. She can be cynical, but also funny and friendly and occasionally sweet.  In the movie, we only get to see Ramona's cynicism. Another complaint I have is that we don't really get to see what attracts her to Scott. We know why Scott likes her: she's pretty and literally is the girl in his dreams. I get that the filmmakers want to set Ramona up as a foil to Knives—Ramona's skeptism vs. Knives' sunny
innocence—but I think they weren't interested in much more. Or maybe Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (who seems like a capable actress) just don't have a lot of chemistry. On a lesser scale, I was also confused by Jason Schwartzman as Gideon. In the books, Gideon is a suave and depraved Big Boss who reveals himself to be pathetic and needy at his core. In the movie, Gideon comes off more like a nerd who rose up to defeat other nerds in order to become king of all nerdom. He's a dork whose evil powers only serve to enhance his dorkiness. While this isn't necessarily a bad choice—Schwartzman is always great and in the end, I still rooted for Scott to punch his lights out—it was kind of a letdown for me.




I found one big difference between film and book series is the message. In both mediums, the theme of growing up is the dominent one and it's illustrated in different ways. But what is said about the importance of growing up is where the movie and the books diverge. In the books, the improvement of interpersonal relationships is a big motivator for getting your shit together. Scott receives closure with all his exes and is ready to try again with Ramona (and he also gets a steady job). In the movie, attaining self-respect is the highest reward, and relationships seem to place second. Scott apologizes to Ramona and Knives and almost lets Ramona go, only to be encouraged by Knives to go after her (Knives having gotten over Scott). The film ends with Ramona and Scott walking silently into a subspace door, with the status of their relationship up in the air. As messages go, I like how they are both executed; I understand that for time purposes the movie cannot expand on the theme the way the book does. Here is where I perfer the books, as they just have more room for examining a complex idea.


But any complaints I have against the film aren't enough to dissuade me from loving it. The passion that Edgar Wright, the cast, and the rest of the crew brought to the film is touching on many levels, and I really think they created something that will endure. A lot of the credit goes to Bryan Lee O'Malley, not just for writing Scott Pilgrim in the first place, but for working with Wright and the filmmakers on the adaptation (the words “slavish attention to detail” spring to mind). If ever a movie deserved to have a fanatic cult following, Scott Pilgrim is a prime and deserving candidate.


I was very excited when I finally received the chance to watch Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the highly-praised yet largely unviewed movie that came out a year ago.  Even before watching it, I knew I would want to write about my experience with the film, and possibly of the graphic novel series from which it sprung. This is not, despite the title of this post,
really a review of the movie, since I'll be comparing it constantly with my interpretation of the books. As a big reader with a love of film, I just want to discuss the adaptation—where the movie got it so right, and where it didn't impress me so much.