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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) ***

August 12, 2010

Written by: Michael Bacall and Edgar Wright

Produced by: Eric Gitter, Nira Park, Marc Platt, and Edgar Wright

Directed by: Edgar Wright

Rated PG-13 for stylized violence, sexual content, language and drug references

112 mins.

U.S. Release Date: August 13, 2010

Most comic book-to-film adaptations, in what seems like an endless wave of them nowadays, tend to cater to those fans that passionately celebrate the original works.  Comic book nerds and fanboys flock to theaters to get a taste of a real-life manifestation of their superhero fantasies and hope that the filmmakers did proper justice to their treasured hand-drawn idols.  Filmmakers, as they tackle these celebrated properties, ride the line between disappointing obsessive fans and appealing to the masses, but very few hit the bull’s-eye and succeed in both.  In Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) writes, produces, and directs the adaptation of a graphic novel series called “Scott Pilgrim” about a 22 year-old slacker who must battle his crush’s seven exes – videogame-style – to win her hand.  Does Wright deliver a film that serves as a fanboy party, or can non-comic book nerds get in on the fun too?

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), a 22-year old from Toronto, leads the perfect slacker life.  He’s committed to a lifestyle of… non-commitment.  Scott plays bass guitar in an indie band called The Sex Bob-ombs, he doesn’t have a job (which he views to be a great thing), and he’s casually dating an Asian catholic high school girl.  Shallowness is his comfort, and the young man is perfectly happy with the way his life is going.  Perfectly happy, until the day Scott meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a hard-shelled delivery girl with wildly colored hair.  Ramona spends her days delivering packages for Amazon, but also flying around Scott’s daydreams.  After meeting and talking for a while, it is abundantly clear to Scott that he and Ramona need to be together… forever!

One day, when Scott and The Sex Bob-ombs are playing a battle of the bands show, an angry yet oddly fashionable man comes flying through the roof and launches a series of flying attacks against Scott.  As the two battle, Scott’s opponent, Matthew Patel, explains that he’s Ramona’s first boyfriend and that Scott has to battle and defeat all of Ramona’s seven exes in order to date her.  Throughout the action-heavy second and thirds acts, Scott faces off against an action-movie star, twin magician DJs, a vegan musician, and a bi-curious blade-wielding ex-girlfriend.  Throughout the battles, which always come as a surprising blitz to Scott, Scott and Ramona must work through the ups and downs of their budding relationship.

From the first few frames of the film (even the Universal logo that leads in), you can tell that something more than the regular film-going experience is in store: something alternative, video game influenced, and nerd-chic, if you will.  In the past, there have been many film adaptations of comic books, but never a movie that actually looks like a comic book.  In fight sequences, when characters get hit, you get a visual queue in the form of a “THWACK!”, “POW!”, or “BOOM!”.  With a stimulating frame-by-frame comic book style, audiences are in for a truly unique and jarring visual style that should pacify fanboys and “commoners” alike.

The acting in the film is actually quite good, despite having naturally cheesy points in the script at times.  The biggest surprise, in terms of acting, lays in Kieran Culkin’s performance as Wallace, Scott’s hilarious gay roommate.  Culkin delivers in lines with mature comedic timing that typically only shows up in performances by seasoned genre actors.  Canadian sweetheart Michael Cera brings a fun and action-packed delivery in his performance as Scott Pilgrim.  After playing the frail indie kid in most all his previous roles, Cera returns as an indie kid still, but this time he gets to be in the big action set pieces and fight sequences, which surprisingly work well given the playful nature of the film.

If you like video games, comic books, comedies, action films, Michael Cera, or the like, there’s no reason you shouldn’t see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.  Sure, the whole premise of defeating one’s former ex-relationships in battle to win a person’s hand might be a little ridiculous, but you can tell that there is definitely something deeper laying in the film’s theme.  We all carry baggage with us into each new relationship we forge.  Every time we get into a new romantic relationship, we force our newfound interest to confront our baggage and battle it, in a sense.  In order for a relationship to flourish, both parties need to get through the mental – in this case, physical – obstacles that remain.  If you see this film, you won’t be troubled by deep philosophical thoughts on relationships, but rather you will witness lighthearted action and comedy, and you will have a fun time at the movies… which is what we all pay for, right?

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