I Saw Scott Pilgrim
August 23, 2010

Actually, I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on opening night, but then I went on vacation and forgot to post about it. Oops. I don’t think my recommendation would have helped, though, since the negative judgments came in fast and furious, whether it was hatred for the presumed ‘hipster’ audience, the wrong release date (up against the much more testerone-y Expendables), the inability of geeks to open a movie, the tendency of the presumed target audience to download films for free, or comprehensive lists that blamed everything from loathing of lead actor Michael Cera to no clear target audience.

Scott Pilgrim movie poster

Don’t care, I loved it. The casting was perfect, with everyone resembling the characters from the graphic novel series even more than I expected they would. Cera, as Scott Pilgrim, was the weakest link, in my opinion, because I agree that he’s overrated. He plays basically the same role in every movie and has little charisma for me. I’d like to see him do something different at this point. I really appreciated Mary Elizabeth Winstead, though, who as Ramona Flowers fleshes out what in other hands would have seemed an underwritten role. All the women were really good, including Anna Kendrick as sister Stacey Pilgrim; Aubrey Plaza as Julie; and Alison Pill as the difficult Kim Pine. (Is it bad of me to admit I sometimes had a hard time telling them apart in the books, but here they were all distinctive?)

In some ways, I enjoyed the movie more than the final book, although that was an entertaining read in its own way. Due to the limited length (movie running time instead of six graphic novels), the story was tighter, with a more distinct narrative arc. While Sin City showed how to use a comic as a movie storyboard, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World better played to the strengths of the film medium. I got some of the video game references more easily, for example, seeing them executed visually with movement.

Along similar lines, some of the plot elements made more sense to me in this version of the story. At times I found myself thinking, “oh, that’s why that was in the book, it was used here.” Plus, there was less of the mopey stuff that bogged down four and five a little bit, since the movie doesn’t have to deal with Scott growing up and getting a job. Instead, this becomes more of a band movie, with an arc that follows the group struggling to get noticed. More Stephen Stills (Mark Webber) was a welcome result.

There were some things left out that I missed, most obviously for me the library fight between Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) and Ramona. That’s one of my favorite scenes from the books because of the architecture and the way it plays into the staging. But there was still plenty for Knives to do, and she was a gem. I also missed Envy Adams (Brie Larson) having more of a development arc and getting to know her as a character instead of a plot point.

The outstandingly best thing about the movie, though, was gay best friend Wallace Wells, played amazingly by Kieran Culkin. His lines and attitude were hilarious, and I was always laughing at any scene he was in. Brandon Routh (evil ex #3) was also a hoot. The best fights were at the front end of the card, with Routh and Chris Evans (#2) the high points. The latter battles took on less importance, as we cared about other character struggles by then.

Regardless of the reaction, I’ll be buying the Blu-ray as soon as it’s available and expect to enjoy it over and over again.

25 Responses  
Joshua Macy writes:  

I went to see it twice on opening weekend. For somebody who’s reluctant to even see movies in theaters anymore that’s pretty impressive.

Kitten writes:  

People didn’t like this movie?! Oh, man, I’m so glad I didn’t read any reviews before going because I adored this movie. The highlights of the movie (for me) were Knives, the vegan ex, and Michael Cera, though I know many people disagree with that latter point.

I do think I’m going to go see it again. I can’t help myself. I, like Joshua, am a normally reluctant moviegoer as well!

Richard J. Marcej writes:  

I see a ton of films every year (usually a minimum of 50 or so) and thought that this was a really enjoyable film. I’d never read a Pilgrim book (not of fan of the artwork) but bought Book 1 the day after I saw the film. (hey what do you know, a movie actually selling a copy of a comic/GN!)

And as for reviews, actually, this film has gotten MANY positive reviews. It’s the public, who have avoided the film like the plague (and instead seen boring tripe like “The Other Guys” ????) that have given the film a bad rep.

Johanna writes:  

I’m sure, if I had time right now, I would love seeing Scott Pilgrim again, because I think I would find a lot more in it. I didn’t even notice the O’Malley and Larson cameos!

Richard, heh heh, the nefarious plan worked! What did you think of reading the comic?

Joshua Macy writes:  

I also bought the album, another thing I haven’t done in forever. Maybe since American Werewolf in London?

Sarah writes:  

Man, that NPR review is spot-on. I’ve had people call me a hipster just because I like this movie and have been told that hipsters are apparently evil and must be destroyed. I’m still not sure what a hipster even IS, but, uh, I guess I should fear for my life or something?

Anyway, I loved it, and I’m itching to see it again, but haven’t had the chance yet. It was creative and entertaining and I haven’t laughed that much in a long time. My younger brothers and I went together and had tons of fun and we promptly picked up the whole series, the soundtrack, and the game afterward.

Kat Kan writes:  

Younger son (15 yrs old) and I went on opening day, right after school – and we both loved the movie. He wanted to read the books before seeing the movie; mine are buried somewhere deep within stacks or possibly boxes, so … I bought more copies. Anyway, he loves both the books and movie, as do I. I really really want to see it again, and will definitely get it when the DVD is released.

Johanna writes:  

There may not have been enough fans for Hollywood to label this movie a success, but boy, we’re devoted! I suspect this will be a favorite for years to come.

Thom writes:  

My favorite list of what went wrong included these two reasons:
Audiences over 30 didn’t get it.
Audiences under 30 didn’t get it.

I, however, am over 30 and totally got it. Looking forward to the blu-ray.

Kat Kan writes:  

Thom, considering my son is under 30 and I am way over 30 and we both totally got it, those two reasons don’t work with us. ^_^

Barney writes:  

I liked the movie but I don’t think it really works. (I think there are some minor spoilers in what I’m saying, just a warning on the side of caution.) The first half is pretty much spot on, mostly the set up material from the first volume. It’s the second half of the movie where it seems to fall apart, at least for me. One thing that I really have a problem with is that Scott and Ramona’s relationship never seems to actually start before all the angst happens. By the end of the movie I couldn’t really say that Scott and Ramona even liked each other. This is a real problem since by the end of the movie it feels like a cheat when Scott chooses Ramona over Knives. Also Ramona is hardly involved in the final fight against Gideon, which makes her a lot more of a damsel in distress than she is in the books.

Jim Perreault writes:  

At the comic shop, I’ve been hearing nothing but good buzz about the film (which I have not seen).

Sales of the book also are skyrocketing. So I would call that a success.

Sarah writes:  

I enjoyed the hell out of this movie. Rarely have I seen so many negative reviews that so spectacularly missed the point, either. I mean, if you’re tired of Michael Cera, fine, if you think the seven fights ended up being a bit much for two hours, fine, if you feel like Scott & Ramona’s relationship wasn’t developed enough to be worth all the pyrotechnics, okay, but the number of reviewers who complained that Scott was presented as cool when he was really just annoying, or that he was too much of an awesome slacker god to be relatable…it’s like the movie was using some form of satire that is completely undetectable to anyone over the age of 40 who didn’t grow up clutching a joystick.

Johanna writes:  

Barney, true enough. The movie does take some more traditional, expected turns, I suspect because of the relatively shorter time it has to tell the story. But I found Scott and Ramona’s relationship plausible — they did more for each other than the leads in many other romantic comedies.

Sarah, good point — people seemed to be reading Scott as “traditional hero” when he was really nothing of the sort.

Thom writes:  

It is worth noting that the film was originally structured with an ending where Scott and Ramona part ways. Shockingly, the test audiences did not like that ending… so small changes were made and the ending was switched up. This is most likely why some felt like the ending was not plausible… it was not Wright’s original ending.

Johanna writes:  

Do you have a source for that, please? I’ve heard that, but it sounds like urban legend to me, or what people want to think as a self-created explanation.

Joshua Macy writes:  

The stuff about the original film ending is from Collider.com: http://www.collider.com/2010/08/07/scott-pilgrim-interview-mary-elizabeth-winstead-ellen-wong-scott-pilgrim-vs-the-world-interview-the-thing-prequel-die-hard-5-alternate-ending/

It doesn’t say anything about getting as far as test audiences, though.

Johanna writes:  

Wow, another reason for me to look forward to the home video release, then! Thanks for pointing that out, Joshua.

DaVeO writes:  

My wife and I saw it and loved it. I’ve read the whole series, she just the first two volumes but both of us got all the jokes and were telling each other what the other one might have missed. We’re both over 30 but under 40 btw. ;)

Scott Pilgrim on DVD/Blu-ray Before End of Year » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[…] anticipated by its devoted fans, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on November 9, three months after its theater […]

Scott Pilgrim on DVD Today » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[…] Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the under-appreciated but excellent movie adaption of the graphic novel series, debuts on DVD today. Here’s more information on the many special features. I’ll have a review coming later this week once I can sit down and savor all its goodness. In the meantime, have some video clips! […]

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[…] am really glad I own this movie. I’d meant to talk about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World before now, but there’s just way too much stuff on the Blu-ray for me to get through it all […]

What’s Your Number? » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[…] given how many comic book films he’s been in (Captain America, Fantastic Four, The Losers, Scott Pilgrim) and that he looks amazing in all of them. You can watch the trailer at the movie website (warning: […]

*Seconds: A Graphic Novel — Recommended » Comics Worth Reading writes:  

[…] first major comic release into a popular six-graphic-novel series that’s the basis for a major motion picture and still being reprinted ten years later. So it’s not surprising that the next book by Bryan […]

Ant-Man Announces Cast Members With Comic-Con Appearances » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[…] everyone else, I’m unhappy to hear that Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The World’s End) will no longer be directing Marvel’s Ant-Man movie, since I like his […]


»  Substance: WordPress   »  Style: Ahren Ahimsa
Copyright 2009-2015 Johanna Draper Carlson