Monday, August 23, 2010

At the Movies: Rockin' Out with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

With a free movie coupon burning a hole in my wallet (courtesy of the free and fabulous Regal rewards club), I decided to see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World this past Sunday. I went solo, as everyone on my movie companion list was otherwise engaged. There was a sprinkling of other moviegoers at the matinee, all of whom grunted in disgust as the previews rolled on soundlessly against a "Thanks for silencing your cell phones" watermark. Thankfully, whatever was broken was fixed in time for the feature presentation.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is based on a Canadian graphic novel series. Not being a comic book kind of girl, I came more for the kookiness factor and for the Michael Cera. And although the story was an odd one, strangely told, I wasn't disappointed. Cera stars as the title character, a hapless twenty-two-year-old bass guitarist for an obscure rock band in Toronto. He has no job and is dating a seventeen-year-old Asian girl named Knives, much to the amusement of his friends and family (including his sarcastic and gossipy sister, played by Up in the Air's Anna Kendrick). Indeed, their relationship is pretty flimsy. Never-been-kissed Knives is the most naive seventeen-year-old on the planet and shadows Scott with pathetic puppy dog eagerness. Scott is just going through the motions, still hung up on Natalie - now superstar rocker Envy, the girl who broke his heart. At least he is until he meets Ramona, the girl of his literal and figurative dreams. The quintessential badass indie chick with a past, Ramona moved to Toronto from New York to start a quieter life. An enigma to everyone, she dyes her hair a different day-glo shade every other week and trails a string of broken-hearted suitors in her wake. Although I appreciated her edgy independence, I found her a little morose. But Scott was instantly smitten, summoning all of his courage in Cera's signature delightfully dorky way to fend off her seven evil exes.

So far, this may sound like every romantic comedy about young, misunderstood people ever written. And in some ways it is. But in other ways, not so much. Take the presentation. As each character is introduced at the movie's beginning, a little box pops up on the screen offering up said character's stats, kind of like in VH1's Pop Up Video. When Scott and Ramona go to Ramona's house on their first date, they fly there ("there" being a single door suspended in space). And, as Scott defeats each evil ex, a shower of tokens explodes onto the screen. Watching it all, I felt like I was inside a video game, as I'm sure the director intended. Although this sometimes made concentrating difficult, I give full points for originality.

As always, Cera is perfect as the endearingly dry and witty David-type guy going up against the proverbial Goliath. After battling Ramona's seven evil exes (the final and most evil of which is a record deal-wielding Jason Schwartzman), Ramona proclaims him to be "the nicest guy she ever dated." Knives (who's been lurking in the background sporting Ramona's hairstyle since being dumped early in the movie) bows out gracefully, and Scott and Ramona enter an enchanted and otherworldly realm of happily-ever-after. Little pink cartoon hearts abound.

Being a girl and all, I wasn't impressed by the many and special effects-laden fight scenes. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the edgy humor of this off-kilter little tale almost as much as I enjoyed its celebration of that timeless and much-hearted theme, misfits in love.

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