Scott Pilgrim vs the World

I've been trying, I'm not lying | No one's perfect, I've got baggage!

Ever date someone who just could not let go of the past? No matter what, somehow a story about an ex might pop up in conversation. Either a story about how great they were compared to what you are doing right now, or stories about how horrid they were – and you are just like them. The realization that needs to be made is that you are not just dating a person. You are dating the person’s sum of interpersonal experiences, for better or for worse. In the latter case, it is a constant fight with the expectations set by others.

Scott Pilgrim’s journey is an extended metaphor about such a dating experience. Scott must face Ramona Flowers’ seven exes before he can hope to have a successful relationship with her. Assume what you will about what each ex represents. The main point is that Scott has to help Ramona deal with her past. What makes Scott a partner who does not turn evil is his desire to work with her toward her eventual growth instead of expecting her to be the perfect woman he sees in his head.

What I love about this narrative is that Scott is in no way perfect himself. He is a slacker with odd interpersonal issues, and he has his own emotional baggage. In the Scott Pilgrim comic series it is revealed that hypersurreality of the world is primarily just how Scott sees things as he tries to escape reality. The Nega-Scott is a manifestation of Scott’s negative feelings. He pushes his negative memories into the Nega-Scott and spends time running from him. To be frank, Scott is kind of a jerk. He broke up with his longtime friend Kim Pine by letting someone else tell her he was moving away. He cheated on Knives Chau with Ramona and then flippantly told her they were through. The issue with Envy Adams is complicated enough for them both to admit that the heartbreak was mutual. What makes Scott even worse is his inability to accept what he has done.

Click here to see the unembadable music video for "Black Sheep"

My main disappointment with the movie version is that Scott faces his growth mostly alone. He has to carry not only his growth in the face of emotional baggage but also Ramona’s. In the comic Scott gets by with a little help from his friends. In the comic Ramona takes some time to herself to grow up a little bit. The movie lacks any sort of growth for Ramona or the strength of Scott’s friends. It also misuses the Nega-Scott, but at least they got a good joke out of it anyway.

Let me say right out that despite these shortcomings I absolutely love Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. If you did not get the gist of things from a previous post, I thought the movie was absolutely superior to the week’s financial leader, The Expendables. Better direction, better heart, and just plain more creative. The visual styling and game-related tropes (understandable enough for the lowest common denominator) made for an unparalleled experience. This will certainly be a cult favored movie.

The highlight of the film for me was Brandon Routh’s portrayal of Todd Ingram. OK, I just love the Todd Ingram character himself. He is an ex who received his super powers from successfully attending the Vegan Academy. Being a vegan gives him powers because it means he is better than you. The character is a hybrid of Dragon Ball Z characters and Tetsuo from Akira. In the comic Ingram’s undoing was his ego, since he flippantly believed he could get away with everything (including breaking his diet) because he was better than everyone else. In the movie it was his own stupidity. And Routh’s portrayal was everything it should have been. He has great comedic timing and, as shown in the music video above, a great glower of self-importance. Especially amusing to me is that Routh portrayed Superman in Superman Returns, and Goku from Dragon Ball had his origin refashioned to resemble Superman’s when DBZ came around. Todd Ingram takes some of his traits from DBZ and anime in general, meaning that the choice of Routh was circular and perfect. And geeky for me to notice.

I have no doubt that I will pick up Scott Pilgrim on DVD the day it is released. It is that fun.

Random thoughts:

  • I love that the opening scene consisted of music and sound effects from A Link to the Past. I thought the entire movie could be peppered with those references.
  • Superman hit a girl? This should be a new entry on the Superdickory website.
  • Amazing that they managed to fit all of the exes in an hour and a half. One might complain there was not enough, but each one got a moment to chew the scenery, which made up for things.
  • Seriously, the Bollywood song and dance number pretty much set the stage for everyone Ramona has dated.
  • I have been reading about Ramona’s actress, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, being hot. She seems pretty but indistinct from the normal Hollywood lot. Ellen Wong, however, does stand out.
  • There was not enough Envy Adams. For such a big part of Scott’s romantic life, she was turned into nothing more than a pit stop in the plot.
  • That song, “Black Sheep”, is pretty much perfect for the movie and made the scene in which it was featured.
  • Will Jason Schwartzman ever get his critical due? He is a great and fun actor.
  • Mind control? Man, they really should have run with the subspace doors from the books and the idea of getting into someone’s head.
  • “We are Sex Bob-Omb, and we are here to talk about death and get you sad and stuff!”

About Gospel X

Media commentator who tries not to waste time - and often fails

Posted on August 19, 2010, in Bechdel failure, comedy, comics, movies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Melanie Carbine

    The more I read about this movie, the more I want to see it. (I was just reading a write up on I don’t necessarily like playing video games but I love the fiction that seems to come out of them. I saw this video rock opera last year staged in Canton–brillant.

  2. Yeah, the whole Scott Pilgrim thing seems to suggest to me that video gaming, like science fiction before it, has become a bit of a culture in itself. It certainly shapes the way some people see and experience the world – and makes for some really interesting fiction to boot!

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