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>> Friday, August 20, 2010

Thank GOD this wan't in 3-D...

Michael Cera stars as the sad, lonely and surprisingly tough Scott Pilgrim in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which is definitely Cera’s most ambitious work to date. Now, Cera has gotten a lot of attention in the movie scene since 2007’s Superbad, at which point he began to land roles in movies left and right. Some were pretty decent (Juno [2007] and Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist [2008]) and some were not so good (Year One [2009]). In all of his movies, however, he plays the same shy, dimwitted, girl-hunting hipster who can never seem to get a break. With Scott Pilgrim, this is still the case. Cera has unfortunately been type cast into what are probably referred to as “Cera roles” by now. With Pilgrim though, he works on so many good levels it’s ridiculous.

Scott Pilgrim is a young Mr. Lonley-hearts who thinks that (after a nasty break up over a year ago) he may have figured out life when he starts dating Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) – a high school Chinese girl. His sister Stacey (Up in the Air’s Anna Kendrick) and his best friend and roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin) mock him for dating such an inexperienced youngster. At one point Knives tells Scott she’s never kissed a boy, to which Scott replies “It’s okay, I’ve never kissed one either.” – what a nice guy he is. That is at least until he breaks up with Knives to pursue a relationship with Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabteh Winstead), who becomes Scott’s obsession to the point of daydream insanity and borderline psychosis.

Scott eventually feeds his addiction of Ramona by stalking to her to the point where he finally hooks up with her and gets his way. Just when Scott (once again) thinks life couldn’t be more perfect, he receives a threatening email notifying him of the League of Exes (or something to that effect). It seems in order to be with the girl of his dreams he must first destroy her seven evil exes (which includes Fantastic Four’s Chris Evans and Superman ReturnsBrandon Routh).
The fact that even a small summary of the movie’s plot sounds so original is a testament to how original Scott Pilgrim actually is –and boy howdy is it a hell of a lot of fun. I don’t even know where to start on how well done this movie was.

A few weeks ago I mentioned Inception was the best movie we were likely to see in a long time and labelled it my favourite movie of the year. That was because Inception was a deep story for me and seemed perfect and epic in every way, from the tale itself to the amazing acrobatics and visuals. Now, Scott Pilgrim comes along and does damn near everything it can to knock that mind frame out of the water. That’s because this movie (who’s tagline is “The epic of epic epicness.”) is also a perfect movie. It is perfect in a different way than Inception though. As aforementioned, Inception felt like it hit the deep core of me and my reason for being a filmmaker, while Scott Pilgrim was something to wholly admire. Now, I am a fan of pop culture and consider myself to be fairly well-informed when it comes to movies and TV and actors and actresses, etc. In that sense I get a good amount of the references and music cues used in this film. The other layer to this awesome madness comes from video games and comic books. The video games of course provide fun visual and audio stimuli, while the comics provide an outstanding array of really, really neato effects – some of which are so quick if you blink you may miss them, but always beautifully done.

As if the visuals (its main source of originality, no doubt) weren’t enough in Scott Pilgrim, as a filmmaker I had to admire the incredibly done, amazingly tight editing of the movie. I haven’t seen a movie where I noticed the editing to this extent in a long, long time. It’s as if the director (Shaun of the Dead’s Edgar Wright) thought “If someone needs to get from A to B, why not just show A, then show B?”. That style means Scott Pilgrim NEVER has a dull moment. The editing and sheer planning in advance that this movie would have needed (and lots of storyboards I imagine) is where the admiration comes in. Where Inception hooked me with idea, Scott Pilgrim hooked me with style. It’s like Stephen Hawking vs Johnny Depp. They are different in totally different ways, but I’ll be damned if they don’t both get your attention.

None of what I’m saying here even touches on the quirky humour with this movie, either - because that’s on an entirely different level all by itself that enriches the film even morseo. If you’ve seen Shaun of the Dead (2004) or Hot Fuzz (2007) you’ll know what kind of humour to expect here. It, like the editing is quick paced and if you blink you may miss it. Unlike Shaun and Fuzz though, it’s like Wright put his humour creator on speed because there is twenty times as many funny moments in this movie than in any of the director’s previous work.

As all of these elements come together it’s like watching a lot of the best movie moments you’ve ever seen come together in a mash-up of epicness for 112 minutes, and done right, too. None of it feels awkward or forced and you never question its purpose. This is the type of movie I hope gets nominated for an Oscar next year and I hope wins. Best Picture Oscars are given as an award for excellence in filmmaking. Scott Pilgrim is an excellence in filmmaking. War stories and dramas are great because they provide a political insight as to what’s going on in the world at that time, but they are the expected winners and something like Scott Pilgrim would be a nice change of pace as it provides just as much social commentary for this generation as well as the last 30 years of pop culture. I wouldn’t even mind it if Michael Cera was nominated here. He plays a lot if so perfectly that even though the role was undoubtedly tailored for him, it’s still has to be a lot of work to be so precisely awkward.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World gets a wide, wide open door from me. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a movie this much in a very long time. And yes, it’s worth seeing in theatres as lot of the little details may be missed on smaller screens. If you don’t enjoy this movie you have no soul -simple as that.

*Stills courtesy of Universal Pictures


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