“Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” didn’t do too well at the box office this weekend. Scratch that; it bombed, grossing only $10 million despite a significant amount of hype. And that really is a shame, as the quirkiness that obviously repelled so many moviegoers is just what makes this movie so much fun.
Directed by Edgar Wright and based on a series of comic books, the film stars Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, aka the typical awkward Cera character. Scott plays bass in a band that’s trying to make it big, lives with his gay roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin), and has just started dating for the first time since his last big break-up; and the new girl in his life is a seventeen-year-old Catholic high school student named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). And then he meets the colorful-haired Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and falls for her hard. He manages to win her over with his gawky charm, but there’s one thing she hasn’t told him: in order to date her, he has to defeat her seven evil exes in battle (whom Ramona apparently pissed off so much by dumping them they’ve never really gotten over her).
This is not just another teen movie. Those battles are modeled after vintage video games, and it’s impossible for any gamer to not love this movie’s unique style. From the opening Universal Studios theme set to tinny arcade music to the pop-ups and asides describing all the characters, the video game culture element of this movie gives it a sort of frantic energy that’s hard to resist, and the combination of video game graphics with the real world makes for some great visual effects. This is especially apparent in those battles, which may get to be overkill towards the finale (four or five exes may have been more practical) but are still fun and funny. For instance, Scott grabs extra lives out of the air, and his enemies explode into coins when KO-ed. It’s about the best tribute to those great pixilated arcade games and Nintendos of old you’ll ever see.
And if that isn’t amusing enough, Cera and his fellow costars all have some great scenes and dialogue that, like Ramona’s exes, just keep on coming. Cera may be typecast as the awkward, geeky teen, but you know, there’s a reason for that: he is good at it.
“Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” will no doubt have trouble finding an audience; in fact, it already has, likely due to the fact that people who don’t like teen movies or video games just don’t get it. It is different, but in a good way; in fact, it’s probably the most creative film to come out of this summer movie season. And for the audiences it does find, it is sure to be a real treat to the eyes and ears.
Runtime: 112 minutes. Rated PG-13 for stylized violence, sexual content, language, and drug references.
Visit National Cinemedia to find showtimes for “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” in the St. Louis area.
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