Bryan Lee O’Malley
I’d like to get a couple of important details squared away with you first before I start rambling about why I think Scott Pilgrim is one of the top mainstream films this year. First of all, I’m a writer. As such, I believe in the story and characters above all else. Things like “who directed it” or “who produced it” or “how it was made” sit on the shelf below. Finally–and this is the most important detail–I’m a video game nerd from 8-bit yesteryear and I digest non-mainstream comics like fifty-nine cent, name-brand mac ‘n cheese; which is to say, I really dig comics. I’m the dorky, indifferent kid that wants “to think about death and get sad and stuff.”
There. I feel like we can proceed.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is awesome, and the hyperbole is well-founded. The film, from beginning to end, is an experience. Every moment oozes with style and is tailored to the “and stuff” generation I subscribe to; 8-bit sound effects run rampant, sound effects are written out comic book style, and characters pull huge fucking hammers out of their satchels.
This is all fine and good, as long as it’s not at the expense of the characters or the story. There have been too many adaptations that have opted for the “look right” option and have totally flubbed on the story front. With Pilgrim, the main characters all have story threads that wrap up nicely by the end credits and title character himself grows from being a kind of “twenty-something asshole” to “not that bad of a guy.” To quote him, “I think I just learned something.” The romantic triangle between him, Ramona and Knives is also very believable and the awkwardness and crushing blow of getting dumped is played out in a way that’s borders on uncomfortably accurate. It’s nice to see the filmmakers keep a good balance between silly romantic cliche and heartfelt character stuff.
The casting for the film didn’t feel wrong, and everyone was able to do their own thing with the characters. Michael Cera, despite his tendency for sameness across his roles, embodies Scott Pilgrim and does the role good. After seeing the film, I’m not sure anyone else could have played that role. One reviewer I read suggested that all his other roles are just training for this, and I can definitely agree with the sentiment.
Perhaps the most memorable role of the film is that of Scott’s roommate Wallace, played by Kieran Culkin. Every scene he is in is gold and I found myself wishing he had had more screen time. Brandon Routh also shines through as Todd Ingram and revels in the delightfully ridiculous role. When I say that I can’t complain about any of the casting choices, I’m being super-vegan serious.
That’s not to say that this film is perfect. It’s not. It’s a niche film tailored to a specific demographic. It’s paced like a video game and it winks at it’s viewers like an epileptic seizure. The characters could be deeper and could have more heart, but that’s not necessarily the point of the story. What you see on the screen is as faithful an adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s work as anyone could hope to achieve. It’s not going to be Criterion Collection Masterpiece of Nerddom, but it’s most definitely in the top mainstream films of this year and is pretty much THE film of the “and stuff” generation.
I lesbians this film so hard.