11 December 2010

The League of Evil Exes Strikes!

**** (4.5 stars)

I’m a little behind. Where I once went to the movies every weekend, sometimes more; now, I find myself struggling to find the time to watch even my Netflix rentals. Chuck & Beans put this beautifully in a cartoon published recently:

You know the feeling- I work all day for little pay, but at least there’s the weekend. It sounds like a country song. But, what if you work weekends? How are you supposed to indulge your greatest desire, to see every movie that comes out as soon as it comes out? I missed “Scott Pilgrim vs the World” when it hit theatres. It’s especially sad as it was a movie I was super excited about. Edgar Wright is the reigning master of the odd blend of low and high-brow comedy England is famous for. From the TV series “Spaced”, to his mock-u-genre pictures “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”, I think the man is brilliant. When my Dad and I went to see “Hot Fuzz” in the theatre, we were a bit dismayed by the fact we were the only ones laughing, and laughing loud and hard. Surely the comedy wouldn’t be lost on Americans who didn’t grow up watching “The Thin Blue Line”. What? They weren’t addicted to PBS like we were? Oh well.

Based on a series of comic books by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim follows the titular character on his quest for the girl of his dreams Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, “Wolf Lake”, “Final Destination 3”). Unfortunately, Ramona has some serious baggage in the form of The League of Exes- 7 Evil Exes who try to control the fate of Ramona’s love life. In order to be with her, he must defeat (i.e. kill) them all. How exactly is a scrawny sad sack and deluded Lothario supposed to do that? Why, with all his years of video game training of course! Each fight resembles something straight out of Nintendo with the defeated villain worth points and coins. When a fist or foot connects, it resembles Adam West’s “Batman”. Ka Pow! Will Scott win his lady love? Will his band Sex Bob-Omb win the Toronto Battle of the Bands?

                              Computer: You've got mail.
                              Scott Pilgrim: Dude, this thing claims I have mail.
                              Wallace Wells (Keiran Culkin): It's amazing what we can do with
                                                                                computers these days.
                              Scott Pilgrim: Dude, now I'm totally reading it.

Scott Pilgrim is almost too smart for mainstream audiences. It’s heavy pop culture references are lost on anyone under 25 and even then it’s a slippery slope. One scene plays like an episode of “Seinfeld” complete with theme music and laugh track. Another opens with the Universal Studios’ (the distributor of the film) theme music playing. The winks and nods to Hollywood movie and comic book culture are all over the film. On second viewing, it became a bit of a game to identify them all.

Cera steps out of his comfort zone a bit here, even if it’s only a foot outside. He is less bumbling and awkward, a little more confident. We have to believe that Scott could defeat these evil exes and that a girl would be interested in him. He has depth that has previously been under the covers before. That we do believe it is, I hope, testament to the growth of Cera as an actor and I hope the direction he will be using going forward in his career.
Each evil ex has their own personality and sad story (often shown as animated cells from the comic book). Ex #1 Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha) fights with the full force of a Bollywood number behind him. Ex #2, Lucas Lee (Chris Evans, “Fantastic Four”, “London”) uses his stunt doubles to do his dirty work. Ex #3 turns out to be a girl, Ex #4 (Brandon Routh, “Superman”) harnesses the power of veganism in a seriously hilarious scene also featuring Scott’s ex Envy (Brie Larson, “United States of Tara”). After defeating a set of twins, Scott must now face the ultimate evil- Gideon Graves (Jason Schwartzman, "Rushmore") who is also the record producer they’ve been tracking since the beginning of the film. Get the girl or the record contract?

Scott’s band mates and roommate provide much of the comic banter and inside jokes strewn throughout the movie. Each character is introduced by a title bubble that pops up on the bottom of the screen giving their basic information (Name, age, position in the band, etc). Mark Webber (“Storytelling”) is the singer, Alison Pill (“Pieces of April”) the drummer and Scott’s ex. Her acerbic wit and deadpan delivery account for many laughs. Stuck on the sideline is Young Neil (Johnny Simmons, “Jennifer’s Body”) who is the perfect groupie and lackey combined. Keiran Culkin ("Igby Goes Down") is Scott's gay roommate who eggs him on in battle and steals everyone's boyfriends. He's also hilarious and has many of the best one-liners in the film. Personally, I like Keiran a lot and hope he continues to make interesting, indie movies.

"Kick her in the balls!" - Wallace Wells

I really loved “Scott Pilgrim vs the World” and plan to buy it soon if for no other reason than the special features are not available on the rental disc. Blast!! All I want to do is watch some bloopers.


  1. You know, I originally had no desire to see this, but lately I have been thinking about putting my hatred for Michael Cera aside temporarily so I can check it out. Like you said in your review, a lot of people I know have also brought up the fact that he doesn't do his typical awkward Cera routine in this. Also, the movie just looks pretty fucking cool! I think I might bump this up on my Netflix queue.

  2. Let me know what you think when you see it. Cera is certainly still doopey, but I didn't want to punch him in the face like I usually do. The movie is pretty fraking cool!

  3. The first time I watched this film I knew it was going in my top five. Though I have to admit the books are better, still great film andgreat review!

  4. Anonymous11 May, 2013

    We're a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your website offered us with valuable information to work on. You have done a formidable job and our entire community will be grateful to you.

    Here is my weblog - losseplads

  5. Anonymous12 May, 2013

    Asking questions are truly good thing if you are not understanding something totally,
    however this post offers fastidious understanding yet.

    Feel free to visit my web-site :: rupert