There is many places I can begin with Scott Pilgrim. The plot, the aesthetic, the success on DVD but not really at the box office. But I think the only place to start is it’s like cinema on steroids. Pioneers of cinema may well be turning in their grave at the cheap-shot of Scott Pilgrim, in that the plot is as flimsy as cling film, the acting is hammy and camp, the script is at best, fairly dull, but good grief it’s something you need to see. It’s completely bonkers, totally wild and utterly brilliant.
As a student of film, I’ve been educated to look for cinema which means something, is culturally relevant and emotionally provoking, Scott Pilgrim is none of these (possibly slightly culturally relevant to teenage geeks maybe? At a push?) Based on a graphic novel, it shows Scott Pilgrim, a musician trying to win the heart of Romona Flowers, but all is not well in this comic universe, he must first defeat her seven evil exes. Using his musical powers, superhero knowledge and in one of the most eccentric scenes, knowledge of milk and the vegan diet, he defeats them one by one.
Scott Pilgrim should not be admired for it’s revolutionary story telling, but what is so incredible about the film is the inventive and unique approach to filming and cinematography. It’s like Kill Bill’s hipster cousin, slightly offbeat and quirky. It’s appeal to younger audiences (primarily the target market for this film) is blindingly obvious, so unashamedly in your face. Scott Pilgrim doesn’t try to be anything special, it’s very tongue in cheek, and rather than proclaiming ‘here is some issues which we want to dissect and examine’, it’s shouting from underneath it’s weird hat and Starbucks coffee, ‘Look at how freaking cool all of this is?!’.
The visuals are spectacular, they are overly comedic, like old Looney Tunes cartoons, which was done in a much more muted and coherent way in Kung Fu Hustle, Scott Pilgrim indulges everything which it’s target audience would want to see; sex, music, fighting, comedy. It’s juvenile and frantic, but I loved it. I literally laughed out loud throughout and when it was finished I turned to my boyfriend and we both said ‘What the f**k was that?’. It doesn’t surprise me that upon release at the cinema it didn’t fare very well, and it also doesn’t surprise me that since it’s release on home media, it’s set records for Blu-ray purchasing, it also doesn’t surprise me the Japanese embraced Scott Pilgrim like it’s long lost child. It’s truly a product of the Nintendo/MTV generation, and will probably be lost on younger and older audiences, with it’s beta game references (lives, health bars, upgraded abilities), hipster references (again the vegan scene, I’m fairly certain that the intended comedy/inside joke style reference would be lost on my mum and dad) and alternative culture references, Scott Pilgrim has been designed with one target audience in mind and it indulges the expectations of that audience. It sticks two fingers up to those who say ‘well it just doesn’t make sense’. I’m not entirely sure Edgar Wright is in the business of making sense, or he just doesn’t care, because it looks so damn good.
My advice, don’t watch Scott Pilgrim expecting a culturally important artefact or revolutionary comment on young fresh cinema, I think that gap has been filled by Juno, but watch it, you seriously need to see it, just to see what cinema is visually capable of.
P.S – Jason Schwartzman fans will enjoy a departure from more ‘serious’ characters we’re used to seeing him perform.
- Scott Pilgrim Vs The World (moviesquire.wordpress.com)
- Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) (dtmmr.com)
- A Real (Honest) Discussion of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – Alex (ac2games.wordpress.com)