Whether or not I’m talking about the books, the movie or the game is irrelevant. Scott Pilgrim is complete and unapologetic awesome. Not to mention the movie is notorious for having some of the most insane, and I mean insane attention to detail. Seriously, the guy who directed this (Edgar Wright) is a minor god of screen directing. But enough about that, on with the Spotlight.
(The greatest fighter in the province…)
So yeah, I’ll be focusing on the movie for this one since it’s the thing that I have easy access to. There’s the serialised graphic novels by Brian Lee O’Malley (who is also a minor god) which the movie is based on and the awesome beat-em-up game called Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game. What a name. However across all of these mediums we follow the adventures of the titular character, Scott Pilgrim and his fateful meeting with Ramona Flowers, who is basically the coolest. Scott certainly seems to think so as he pretty much falls for her instantly as she roller-blades through his dreams, and no I am not using hyperbole. She uses people’s dreams as a sort of highway to deliver packages for Amazon faster. Like I said, she’s pretty much the coolest. However what’s decidedly not cool is how she was in her past “kind of a bitch” since Scott is soon set upon by Ramona’s seven evil exes whom he has to defeat in order to continue dating Ramona. That is if his own baggage doesn’t catch up with him first. But among the fighting and drama is a genuinely heartwarming story and a struggle to become a better person despite surmounting odds. At its heart SPvsTW is a coming of age story and it certainly is a great one at that. None of the characters are perfect, especially Scott, however we see them grow and change as individuals. However since everyone’s such a snarky a-hole, it creates fantastic opportunities for comedy.
The first time I saw this movie I was legitimately crying from laughing so hard. This movie is comedy gold from start to finish and that’s entirely due to the strength of the writing and the characters. Kim Pine is easily one of the show’s highlights with fantastic deadpan and snarky commentary beautifully portrayed by Alison Pill, although Wallace Wells played by Kieran Culkin is a strong contestant in the snark department. But there are a ton of other characters like the delightfully naive Knives Chau (she’s Chinese) played by Ellen Wong who provides romantic and comedic foil to Ramona Flowers, who is played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Scott Pilgrim is played by Michael Cera, and I have to say that nobody could do a better portrayal of Scott. It’s truly remarkable.
You also wouldn’t think of Michael Cera when you think ‘badass action hero’. This movie decides to correct that. The action in this movie is pulse-pounding and amazing, from Scott taking on a Bollywood-inspired punk fire mage that summons demonic hipster chicks to fight for him (and he’s the first boss) to a music battle with a psychic vegan bassist that literally goes super-saiyan to the giant electric yeti accompanied by the single best song to describe the current situation as well as being a brilliant song and the final confrontation with the main antagonist which is such an amazing display of combat I really can’t think of many fights that can top it. The choreography and fluidity of the fights are exemplary and the pulse-pounding soundtrack only multiplies the feelings of excitement exponentially.
You may have noticed from the gif above that the story of SPvsTW is heavily inspired by video games and comics, and that comes out in the movie to the Nth degree. It goes so far as to have the bad guys explode into coins when they die. But don’t worry, they’ll probably respawn. But it’s never really clear if everyone operates on this video-game logic or if it’s just Scott, which gives the movie a kind of surrealism to it that I’m sure some people will enjoy.
But another part of this movie is the music and like the fighting it’s incredible. Scott Pilgrim was originally inspired by the band Plumtree (they actually have a song called Scott Pilgrim) and so it’s only logical that their songs are implemented into the soundtrack along with the likes of Blood Red Shoes, Beachwood Sparks, The Rolling Stones and Metric to create the kind of scratchy punkish indie sound that Scott’s own band, Sex Bob-Omb, thrives upon. Speaking of, Sex Bob-Omb actually existed for a brief period while the move was out, the actors actually learning the instruments of their characters to play for the movie. Except for Michael Cera, he already knew how to play the bass. Because he pretty much is Scott Pilgrim. But the songs that they made such as We Are Sex Bob-Omb and the aforementioned Threshold are fantastic standouts that just bleed with raw garage band flavour.
The last thing I want to touch on is the intricate detail that went into the direction of this movie. You will watch this movie five times through and still pick up on things you never noticed that directly relates to the characters, their identity and relevance to the plot, not to mention the visual comedy here is some of Edgar Wright’s best work. There are also a metric ton of in-jokes and video game references that would probably take an entire post on its own to list all of them, let alone explain them.
Scott Pilgrim vs The World is one of my favourite movies of all time and it rightly deserves its praise. With a stellar cast, thumping music and incomparable acting, it raises the bar to above the top high score on the leaderboard.
If reading this has given you a need for more indie garage band stuff like this, then I highly recommend the band Awesome Snakes who are pretty much if Sex Bob-Omb was pretty much entirely devoted to snakes.