Thursday, August 19, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)

Hipster trash about an unemployed 22 year old who falls in love with a girl who, he discovers, has seven evil ex-boyfriends who will fight him to the death for her honor. Michael Cera is poorly cast in this film; right off the bat, we discover Scott has a 17 year old girlfriend (they "held hands for a sec, but she got uncomfortable") that he is using to get over his own ex, but who is completely in love with him and his shitty garage rock band. He leads her along and drops her when the real love story of the film (with the girl with the psycho exes), making him kind of an ineffectual asshole before the film has even gotten going. If he had been played by someone with a little more range or edge, it would be easier to dismiss his transgression as post-relationship trauma, but his apparent awareness and lack of sincerity make him fairly unlikable right from the get go. The love interest, Ramona Flowers, is also quite worthless, never exhibiting any qualities that would be worth fighting anyone for, let alone crazy psycho powerful superhero exes; as he fights for her, she continually dismisses and ignores him, making one wonder why Scott is as willing as he is to fight for a girl who may or may not care about him. The whole emotional core of the movie is empty and stupid, which is a real shame because Edgar Wright actually scores major aesthetic points here with his filmmaking methods.

There is narrative text throughout, random video game elements relating to the story, and crazy, larger-than-life, Stephen Chow-esque battle sequences. It is all really cool stuff you can stuff in a trailer, but when in the context of this film, it is loud, hollow, and pointless. The characters are not amicable enough for the audience to root for them, and the emotional situations are plodding and uninteresting. The leads, and Cera's rock band posse of friends, are contrived and unlikable, and are basically hodgepodges of other characters from other movies (the freckled angsty drummer is a third name away from being Mary Stuart Masterson in Some Kind of Wonderful). The only actors who come out of this film looking good are Chris Evans, Brandon Routh (as two of the more heinous, infamous exes), and, surprisingly, Kieran Culkin as Scott's snarky gay roommate, who shares his bed with Scott AND whatever conquests he brings home, much to Scott's chagrin; it is a huge detriment to the film that Culkin, the most likable character, does not throw down at any point to back up his best friend. However, the moments where the fights actually break out are typically fun and exciting, particularly the ones with the two aforementioned actors (Routh has a killer sense of timing and delivery, and Evans has the funniest moments in the film with his over-the-top movie star routine). And it was definitely cool to see a bad guy burst into coins after being defeated just like a goombah in Mario, until, like most of the interesting concepts in the film, it is repeated at face value (but NEVER explored) to the point that noone is allowed to oversee how friggin COOL the film is trying to be (and it's not.)

Slightly Recommended to hipsters and video game junkies. This is Edgar Wright's first film that is not a masterpiece (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz will still get play on my TV for many years). Once again this year, I find myself dismissing a film with one constant, unswaying mantra repeating in my head: "KICK ASS WAS BETTER!"

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