Monday, August 23, 2010

Why you should be excited about Scott Pilgrim.

Emily and I were talking the other day about how fangirls are sometimes embarrassed by their fan status. Many of us who love (and possibly obsess over) Harry Potter, Hanson (ok that's just me), video games, comic books, sci-fi, classic novelists, fanfic, cult movies, or what have you, don't necessarily love to broadcast our obsessions to the world as freely as dudes do. We've both been in situations where, in a group of girls, one makes an obscure reference, and suddenly all the faces in the room exchange knowing glances and everyone starts to come out of the geek closet. In fact, that's how most of my girl friends have been made and that's how I discovered Scott Pilgrim. 

It was during what I like to think of as my cultural Renaissance. (I had a baby to take care of and college to get through, so most of my time outside of homework and mom duties was spent at home watching old movies, reading like crazy and collecting all the music I could find.) I met some like-minded girls--fellow writers--who gave me the first volume, and I was hooked. I identified with Ramona more and more as the books went on and really fell in love with every character. I even read The Wonderful World of Kim Pine. Oddly enough, I started out wishing I lived in Scott Pilgrim's world, but by the time I got to the last book (it came out just a few weeks ago) it was completely familiar. The world of the lost 20-something. 
So when I heard Edgar Wright and Michael Cera were attached to a Scott Pilgrim movie, it was this weird combination of validation and uncertainty. On the one hand, YEAH! Thank you Hollywood for seeing how awesome and not-just-fangirly SP is! On the other hand, can a story so personal to so many people be properly made into a movie... and is Michael Cera (*eye roll*) anywhere near awesome enough?

Uh, yes.

I should have had more faith in Wright, who directed the pretty-close-to-flawless Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. His attention to detail and context are pretty remarkable for someone with such a fun, engaging style. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World does what everyone wants a comic book movie to do. It pleases the fans (pretty much across the board, from what I've heard) and gives those who have never read a page of the books an experience similar to what they would get from reading. Here's how he did it:

- Perfect casting. His actors not only sold the parts, they actually looked the parts. I never thought I would believe Michael Cera in this role, but he was just losery enough without being the virgin he usually plays. When I started to not believe him, Wright would throw in a brilliant animated drawing of "comic book Scott" next to Cera and suddenly it was like they were one in the same. Everyone really seemed to understand their characters and care about getting them right (Stills never came out but Mark Webber somehow made me believe that it had happened off-screen or something), especially Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the beloved Ramona.
- Sticking by the book's dialogue. The way the characters talk to each other is a big part of what makes SP great. I mouthed along with the entire pre-titles scene word for word. There is nothing more reassuring/exciting for a comic book fan.

- Straight-from-the-books animation over some of the scenes, like labeling everything in Wallace and Scott's apartment and animating Scott's last haircut. Again, this made me believe the movie more, gave the audience the feeling of reading comic books and allowed him to include things he didn't have time to flush out into full scenes. Also it was just totally clever and cool.

- LEAVING THE ENDING ALONE. Dear other directors who take on comic book movies, please take note of this amazing new development in adapted stories called not messing with the ending! For a second there I got really scared (because Knives Chau isn't as involved in the end of the last book), but Wright did right by the story and we got our ending.

- Making smart omissions and additions. I can't think of anything in the movie that felt like it didn't belong there. The fight scenes were embellished but that's to be expected. While Scott going to visit Kim in the country is one of my favorite parts of the books, I totally get why it was cut. It's a big chunk of the story that veers a little out of the aesthetic of the rest. That works in black and white drawings but not so much in a quirky action movie. I love the Kim/Lisa storyline but the movie had to take some direction and Wright, of course, went with focusing on Scott's development. Like with Stills being gay, I never really felt like I missed it.

- Getting the music right. My friend had the 2007 (I think? Maybe?) limited edition self-titled Sex Bob-omb EP on vinyl and this soundtrack is what it wanted to be. This could have been a dealbreaker but they got it oh-so right. +10 points for Plumtree.

- Understanding the story. The film gets how you're supposed to feel after being told this story and it makes you feel that way. Simple as that. The aesthetic is right and the books and movie go hand-in-hand. I kind of love that there is only one definitive version of this story. That's how you make a comic book movie!

- Being awesome. I don't care if you've never read the books and don't care to ever read the books, there is no reason you should not be freaking out right now! This is a fun, ridiculous, awesome, smart movie and you should see it right now!

2 comments:

  1. Glad you also liked this! haha. I've never seen anything like it. Really good.

    AND I AM LISTENING TO THE MUSIC RIGHT NOW AND ITS SORT OF PRETTY DANG GOOD.

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  2. Scott Pilgrim was amazing. Best movie ever!! And I am so glad they followed the comics and didn't mess it up :p

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