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Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs The World Photo 1

Michael Cera assumes the role of geek king — one more time — in this surprisingly entertaining adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels from Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright. Despite the mountain of potential cliche and deja-vu, Wright finds novel ground, thanks to a potent visual imagination, a complete understanding of the genre and a sincere heart that pushes through the veneer of cool.

Starring: Michael Cera, Alison Pill, Ellen Wong, Anna Kendrick, Kieran Culkin and Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Rating: Three and a half stars out of five

The world certainly did have an axe to grind with Scott Pilgrim — even before the first frames of this Edgar Wright movie hit the screen. It’s not a specific quibble; it’s a question of deja-vu.

For starters, did the world really need another movie featuring gangly Canadian nerd icon Michael Cera in an awkward romantic lead? Moreover, did we need another adaptation of a graphic novel that’s attained cult status? And really, are we so culturally bored that any film featuring a hip soundtrack and some clever video game-inspired special effects will have us drooling at the corners of our slack mouths?

Apparently, yes.

Even though Ghost World came out close to a decade ago, and the pulp pages of comic books appeal to a decidedly niche market, Wright proves there’s still ample terrain to explore and exploit in the ink-stained genre with this reel that gets the tone spot on.

Wright, the director of Shaun of the Dead, brings so much raw energy to this potentially tired mix that you have to surrender to the wackiness within the first act, because it’s delivered without irritating affectation.

Even Cera, who’s awfully close to parodying his own image, finds a way to transcend his own persona by reformulating his goofiness. He strips away the underlying sense of geek ennui, and, in turn, clears the way for his character to assume the dimensions of Greek myth.

Just in case you aren’t up on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s oeuvre, Scott Pilgrim is a modern character from modern times who shares a lot in common with Perseus, the demi-god of Greek legend.

He appears to be a complete mortal, and suffers the slings and arrows of failed romance, but Scott Pilgrim has a weird brand of super-strength that emerges whenever he’s forced to face off against his enemies.

In this case, those enemies are the seven evil exes who once courted his new girlfriend, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

Without any long, drawn-out explanation or primer in Hellenic narrative, Wright simply throws us in the tub of make-believe with an inflatable raft and lets us make the call: Do we want to go for this ride or not?

It’s an easy question to answer, because Wright decks out the screen with so much colour, such fun characters and so many great T-shirts, the mix is undeniably seductive.

Best of all, Wright recognizes his entire movie rests on the flimsy shoulders of wilful suspension of disbelief, but he makes no apologies for a single flight of fancy.

At one point, as Scott is sucked into yet another showdown with a former love, he looks to his gay roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin) and asks: “You’re seeing this, right?”

Wallace responds with a deadpan remark and urges him to fight.

The result is a movie that seems to operate on two completely different levels at the same time. In one plane of experience, Scott Pilgrim is just an ordinary guy who plays bass in a basement band. On another plane, he’s Pilgrim, a righteous avenger who does battle with the forces from the underworld with all the combat aplomb of a video game-addicted teen.

Wright, borrowing from O’Malley, successfully fuses all the pop-culture references with bits and pieces of pagan myth, because he’s not obsessed with the logical weight of the story.

When Scott suddenly assumes the form of a Mortal Kombat-inspired avatar, Wright immediately changes the frame and the look of the film to match what we’re about to see. Even the opening corporate salvo of planet Earth turning in space has been recreated in crude pixel form to give us the right taste of time before the movie even begins.

When things are this zany, you have to surrender and giggle — which is a good place to enjoy obvious entertainments such as these. Perhaps the biggest surprise in this silly and satisfying mix was the fact Scott Pilgrim got to keep his Canadian passport for the voyage.

The graphic novel is a Canadian export, printed in Portland by Oni Press, but the production money behind this movie is largely American, thanks to Universal’s involvement. So are many of the stars, including the Oscar-nominated Anna Kendrick, who plays Scott’s sister, and Culkin, who keeps our logic-based inquiries at bay with declarative statements about the mutable nature of reality — and his attraction to men.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure there was enough novel ground left to tread in the world of offbeat comics and geek chic, but Wright proves genre cliche can be reinvented with imagination, self-awareness and enough courage to be sincere, when it might have been easier to slip into a cocoon of sarcasm.

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Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” debuted in wide release Friday, August 13, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World DS 1 Sheet Movie Poster - Style A

Release date: Friday August 13, 2010
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Director: Edgar Wright
Studio: Universal Pictures
Screenplay: Michael Bacall, Edgar Wright
Producer(s): Eric Gitter, Edgar Wright, Marc Platt, Nira Park
Cast: Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Satya Bhabha, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, Alison Pill, Aubrey Plaza, Brandon Routh, Johnny Simmons, Mark Webber, Mae Whitman, Ellen Wong
Official Site:
Rating: Not yet rated
Available film art: Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World movie posters

Based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Oni Press comic book of the same name, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World follows the eponymous slacker rocker on his colorful quest to defeat his dream girl’s seven evil ex-boyfriends. Twenty-two year old Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) may not have a job, but rocking the bass for his band Sex Bob-omb is a tough job unto itself. When Scott locks eyes with Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), he knows she’s the girl he wants to grow old with. But Ramona has some serious baggage; her supercharged exes rue the thought of her being with another man, and they’ll crush any guy who gives her a second glance. Now, in order to win Ramona’s heart, Scott will do battle with everyone from vegan-powered rock gods to sinister skateboarders, never losing sight of his gorgeous goal as he pummels his way to victory. Shaun of the Dead’s Edgar Wright directs from a script he penned with Michael Bacall. Superhero veterans Chris Evans and Brandon Routh co-star in the action comedy as two of the seven ex-boyfriends.

New Movie Releases: June 19, 2009

Friday, June 19th, 2009

These are the movies being released this Friday.

The Proposal

Proposal DS 1 Sheet Movie Poster - Style A

Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is the executive editor-in-chief of a book publishing company, Colden Books, who forces her assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) to marry her in order to avoid being deported to Canada. He grudgingly accepts, under the condition that he is promoted to the position of editor. When the government investigates, the two are forced to spend the weekend with his parents in Alaska in order to sell the lie, but start to fall genuinely in love as they spend time together.

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Mary Steenburgen, Malin Akerman, Craig T. Nelson; Directed by: Anne Fletcher

Year One

Year One DS 1 Sheet Movie Poster - Style A

After being banished from their homeland, Zed and Oh (Jack Black and Michael Cera), two tribesmen, embark on a journey through their ancient world. Along the way, they encounter Adam and Eve (Harold Ramis and Rhoda Griffis), Cain and Abel (David Cross and Paul Rudd), and Abraham (Hank Azaria).

In an interview regarding Be Kind Rewind, Black stated that Year One will be about two men running around in Moses’s time. He said that the movie is similar to Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Black stated that it might be fun to see all the stories of the Bible in a modern movie.

In an interview with MTV, Cera described it as a comedy set in Biblical times with Black’s character, Zed, looking for some kind of meaning for his life. Black warned viewers expecting a comedy along the lines of Ghostbusters or Knocked Up that the style of the film is much more along the lines of the Monty Python movies.

Cast: Jack Black, Olivia Wilde, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Oliver Platt, David Cross, Vinnie Jones, Juno Temple, June Diane Rapheal, Eden Riegel, Hank Azaria; Directed by: Harold Ramis

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