Scott Pilgrim vs. The Box Office
Imagine my deflation when I purchased a ticket to Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and was informed by the asshole at the box office (his comment: Michael Cera sucks) that there were only 8 other people in the theatre. At 9:50pm on a sweltering Friday evening in Portland, Oregon, when escaping from your probably non-Air Conditioned house seems like the best of all possible solutions. It was such a depressing end to what had been a three-week obsession (including purchasing and reading the first book) and several near misses of seeing it for free.
It’s a good thing we didn’t. It’s a good thing we decided to show up with our wallets intact to make a statement about how excited we were for this movie to be released.
Because it looks like everyone else missed the bus. I’m not going to soap-box or diatribe about The Expendables. I really have little to no interest in seeing the film. I would much rather re-watch an awesome 80s movie (and do, at fairly regular intervals). You could easily argue that Eat, Pray, Love also dealt a large blow to the wounded and flailing comic book movie adaptation because it was, like Expendables, marketed heavily to a particular demographic.
Scott Pilgrim fell very much in the middle. It’s a retro adaptation of an independent comic book published by Portland based Oni Press and written by Canadian Bryan Lee O’Malley. It’s a strange beast – all kinds of nichey – so much so that I’m not sure who the intended demographic really is. Sure, it features lots of video game and rock references, but it certainly doesn’t feel like “my” movie.
WHOSE MOVIE IS THIS?
It felt like a movie that I might have connected with more in my early 20s, than a film that resonates with me at 28 – married with a mortgage and career.
The lazy and misbegotten foibles of youth are not so much my standard movie fare these days. Is it wrong that I rewatch Reality Bites and wish that Winona had given Ben Stiller another shot? What’s so magical and mysterious and cool about the loser guy who leeches off his friends and makes a career out of being selfish and aloof?
After reading the first book, I’m not sure Scott Pilgrim is a character that I really actually LIKE. Michael Cera is also a questionable actor. He seems a bit lost in his own personality, and his waif-thin-sinnewy arms strumming on the guitar were distracting and disconcerting. I think Scott Pilgrim could have achieved more success without Cera. His glory days of bringing frat boys to the party are quite over, I’m afraid. He’ll need to adopt a new schtick to win over the masses.
In fact – who isn’t tired of loser-esque comedy dudes at the moment? It’s hard to make that seem sexy in a climate of depression/recession.
In the grand scheme of characters – I like Knives Chau. She was the only character who really had an emotional vulnerability or likable qualities. Ramona was so distant and ethereal…I guess the rather unlikable characters of Scott and Ramona probably deserve each other, but there is a certain Knives wish-fulfillment I was aching for. She seems the most-fucked-with of the whole group, but probably the most emotionally stable and best able to bounce back and carry on with her life.
WHAT I DID LIKE
The music! It’s a feeling similar to watching Eclipse earlier this summer in that I left the theatre thinking “the adaptation was faithful, but I can’t wait to get my hands on the soundtrack!”
While Scott Pilgrim is losing the battle at the box office – it’s winning the music war on iTunes – currently ranked as the #1 Soundtrack.
And yes, I’ve been bumping it all weekend. The “Sex Bob-omb” tracks are especially catchy. Even the original score is worth downloading, and it sort of put all the whizbang video game references into perspective. But my ultimate favorite is “Black Sheep” by this group called Metric. New favorite group? Maybe so.
Also – a stellar cast featuring just as many mens as womens. Although, most of the chicks spent their time talking to or about the main character, Scott Pilgrim. No Bechdel moments here, but it featured more than a token woman or person of color. So, yay?
Pretty much every female was a win for me – Mary Elizabeth Winstead was perfect – she had the right amount of bulging cartoon eyes and dead-pan to carry off her role. Ellen Wong was brilliant as Knives Chau and, as with the book, really felt like the heart and soul of the film.
Having spent the last six months or so devoting huge chunks of my time and energy into watching book-to-film adaptations…I would have to say that Scott Pilgrim is probably my favorite adaptation in the aforementioned time period. I say this – having only read one of the six books from which it’s been adapted. But at the same time, a film is a different medium than a book. It requires a whole other set of senses and skill.
The movie fell together just as the book fell together for me. There was some magical element that kept me watching/turning the pages. The young cast was gorgeous to look at and filled with excellent comedic timing. It was visually quite stunning and the soundtrack was electrifying.
The emotional bits rang hollow for me…but that may have to do more with disliking my own early 20s. Dan made a strong point in our discussion of the film, when he said it captures a lot of what that time period is like – the emotional turbulence, making stupid regretful mistakes, learning who you are, discovering that being “cool” isn’t always worth the personal costs, etc.
I kept gravitating towards the metaphor of defeating evil exes in order for a relationship to really be at peace. It used that over-the-top anime vibe and explored the idea of how we let our past loves shape our current relationships. But that aspect sort of fell away in all the action and music, and it seemed most of the time about being witty and cool. Which it was.
It positively stunk of cult-hit, which is just about right for this franchise. I wouldn’t expect that insanely large masses would gravitate towards a film adaptation of an independent comic book in the same way that they would gravitate towards a best-selling book adaptation or an 80s action flick parody. So in this particular instance, Expendables and Eat, Pray, Love were always going to be a KO.
Bechdel Test: Scott Pilgrim features several female characters but does NOT pass the women test, does PASS the men test and features more than two minority characters with names and speaking parts, but DOES NOT PASS the race test.