SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD

Overall Impression – Visually exhausting and dramatically repetitive.

THE FOUR QUESTIONS

Who’s your main character? – Scott Pilgrim.

What’s he trying to accomplish? – Professional: Defeat his new girlfriend’s seven evil ex’s. Personal: Learn how to be a good friend to his band mates and the girls who like him.  Private: Learn the true meaning of love.

Who’s trying to stop him? – Ultimately, Gideon Graves who put together the League of Evil Ex’s.

What happens if he fails? – Ramona is enslaved to Gideon and Scott dies.

THE FOUR ARCHETYPES

Orphan – Scott isn’t really an orphan at all.  He is part of a not-terrible band, he has an adoring girlfriend, and there are people who legitimately care for him.  At worst, you could say that he’s an orphan because he’s a slacker-nerd, but nobody seems to mind that about him.

Wanderer – After dreaming about and then actually meeting Ramona, Scott tries to figure out how to win her heart, only to discover that she’s got seven evil ex’s that he has to defeat.

Warrior – Scott becomes a warrior from his first encounter, early in act 2.  He doesn’t even have to learn any skills, because he has Matrix-like fighting ability that comes out of no where.

Martyr – Scott is willing to give up his life to save Ramona, however Scott’s former girlfriend makes even more of a sacrifice, giving up Scott so he can be with Ramona.

AND, IN THE END…

Back at the end of March, I posted this entry after seeing the trailer for SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD, where I declared that this was “my next favorite movie.”  I was wrong.

The movie had a lot going for it: terrific director, retro-video game sensibility, cult graphic-novel status…how could I not love it?  Well, I didn’t and based on the 10.5 million dollars it made opening weekend, many didn’t either.  Expectations were high, reality was low.

I think that several missteps undo SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD.  Firstly, the story is repetitive.  Once someone says that your hero has to defeat seven people, all the audience can do is sit back and wait for the battles.  Everything else feels like filler.  And even though the level of difficulty increases like a video game player working through progressively harder levels, ultimately you know that everything will lead to the Big Boss level.  And sadly, many of the battles end through what the filmmakers want us to believe is Scott Pilgrim’s resourcefulness, but actually just feels like scriptwriting that is trying to be too clever by half.

Next, we’re told that the main character grows as a person (even to the point of earning bonuses at the climax), but it’s all tell and no show.  We don’t see that growth and don’t really care that much, especially because we don’t really want him to end up with the mercurial and possibly psychotic Ramona.  The unfortunately named Knives Chau, his adoring present girlfriend, is a lot more stable and loving.

Finally, the main character is played by Michael Cera who plays Michael Cera and has been playing Michael Cera since his ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT days.   I’m personally suffering from CFS (Cera Fatigue Syndrome).   You know what you’re going get with him in the lead and that’s what is delivered — nothing more interesting or developed.

It’s not that the movie doesn’t offer up any joy.  It’s got an infectious energy and makes a noble attempt at cracking the conundrum of how to present graphic novel format visually in a film, but ultimately it falls flat and just left me exhausted.

I think the movie’s failing can be boiled down to a main character nobody cares much about, going on a journey we don’t understand, pursuing a goal we don’t support.

— Jeffrey Alan Schechter

3 Responses to “SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD”

  1. David Goulet August 16, 2010 at 8:08 pm #

    A co-worker had given me free passes to an advanced screening of this and I in turn gave them to a couple of high school kids because I just didn’t see enough in the trailer to get me pumped up for it. I was worried that if the movie rocked, that I’d be kicking myself. After reading this I feel much better.

  2. Claude September 3, 2010 at 9:58 am #

    I though Scott Pilgrim was excellent! A superb example of how to combine genres (its got major elements of no less than five) into something that’s cohesive. I think the character/non-fight scenes are as good as any teen/romantic comedy. And on top of that the action and effects are top notch. There is nothing quite like Scott Pilgrim, and I think it should get *bonus points* for that.

  3. Jim May 24, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    Just tried to watch this. Had it DVR’d. Took me 2 tries just to get about 1/2 way through. But despite all the graphics and sfx, it was just too boring! Probably a large part of that is because Cera just seemed fatigued — like he’s done too many movies with too little sleep, for years. On top of that, the character is just boring. His gay roomie was much more interesting. So was his sister. Despite the little we saw of them. I would rather have seen movies about them. Maybe them trying to deal with a slacker who thinks his whole life is a video game, when it actually isn’t.

    It’s pretty rare that I don’t watch a full movie, no matter how bad it is. But a bad movie can at least be entertaining — in that, I can’t believe this is so bad but I have to keep watching to see how much worse it can get sort of way. This didn’t even have that going for it.

    Boring gets erased instead of getting watched.

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