Friday, August 13, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Me: What happens when you have a wife who is very excited to see a movie that isn't about notebooks, that doesn't have Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts in it and does not involve (non-pornographic) sex in any city?* You encourage it by digging up movie passes and bringing along your four-year old daughter since you haven't yet to find a good babysitter up in these parts.

And thus, we gathered up our family to see "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World". For some reason Scott Pilgrim has been sort of billed and previewed as a comic book movie, but it is really a video game movie. But fortunately the Venn Diagram of fans of those genres comes pretty close to forming a single circle, so it shouldn't be much of a problem for the oddly mislabeled film. I mean, technically it was a comic, but the movie really takes on the video game culture more in hand than the comic culture.

The movie is by Edgar Wright, who also wrote the really excellent "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz", so I was expecting to like the movie. I also was not disappointed, and this is coming from someone who is in the comic book side of the previously mentioned Venn Diagram and not in the overlap of the 8-bit video game circle.

I feel odd liking this movie in a way. I mean, first of all, I'm old enough that I've played 8-bit video games as new releases, not to be ironic, retro or hipster. Second, a lot of the music was written by 90's era (former) indie musicians such as Beck and Frank Black. So the music and the visuals are from my era, but the movie is obviously aimed for an audience that bought their Pixies tee-shirts from Hot Top instead of from an actual show. Here I was sitting through the movie in my thirties with my wife and kid. I felt like I was supposed to dislike the movie just so that the 20 year olds in the theater could scoff at me and tell me that I didn't get it.

But I did get it.

That's what was weird. I felt like I was letting the rest of the younger audience down by not giving them someone to scoff at for being old and out of it. It's one of those movies that will make young people think that those roles need to be fulfilled and, in a way, I'm sorry I liked it so much and deprived my theater audience by not fulfilling that role.

First of all, the movie is great. Probably the best one I've seen this year in the theaters (I've caught a couple of video that probably beat it thought). It has the right amount of action and rapid movement that makes it pleasing right before it turns into ADD. And beyond all of the flash and fury, there is actually a rather decent story and message in there as well.

But what makes the movie fun is the flash and fury. Visually, the movie is just amazing. I'm really surprised at Edgar Wright's range in the more visually subdued flicks (Shaun and Hot Fuzz) to pull off something so intensely visual and auditory as this film. I'm also a fan of Michael Cera and I was very glad to see that he "matured" a bit from his stammering gawkiness in this movie, at least at parts.

Anyhow, I won't go fully into the flick. On paper, it will sound rather bland and dull because this movie needs to be appreciated in the sound and fury of the screen. But there is a lot to like about this movie. Unfortunately, other audiences will be deprived of my favorite part of the movie experience we had:

When Scott Pilgrim defeated the evil exes after a furious battle scene, they exploded into a bunch of coins. That was immediately followed, in our theater, by my four-year old daughter happily yelling out, "Yay! Pennies!"

Molly: (As usual, I will be transcribing as much as I can from what she says. We're at my computer and I'll be typing up what we are saying as we speak, then I'll go back and format it afterward. Her review will be in a Q&A form due to her age. She's sitting on next to my computer as we do this.)

Chuckie: What did you think about the movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? 
Molly: I liked it. I liked the girl with the pink hair. And the green hair. And the blue hair.

Chuckie: What did you like about her?
Molly: I liked about the girl and boy. When they had hearts.
Chuckie: When did they have hearts? 
Molly: When they kissed each other. (She giggles shyly.)

Chuckie: What was the movie about?
Molly: Him was fighting the ones that wouldn't let him be her boyfriend.
Chuckie: Why wouldn't they let him?
Molly: Because they were bad guys.

Chuckie: So what did you think about the fights?
Molly: They were trying to kill him and he fought them like this... (She engages in a solo battle sequence showing me a number of kicking and punching moves.) ...and then they turned into pennies. And the one he killed turned into glasses and camed out to fight him again.

Chuckie: I thought that the music was almost an uncredited character in and of itself in the movie. What did you think about the music in it?
Molly: I liked it. Especially the dragons.

Chuckie: What was your favorite part of the movie? 
Molly: The hearts.

Chuckie: Who else did you like in the movie?
Molly: The girl he fought. She disappeared and then... POOF! (She waves her arms up largely.) She undisappeared and kicked him like this! (Shows me a kick move.)

Chuckie: Anyone else?
Molly: Um, the black guy and the tan guy.
Chuckie: Who were they?
Molly: One was the black one that never can be dead and the other one can turn his eyes white. Daddy, do I have any powers?
Chuckie: I don't know, Pixie, you tell me. 
Molly: Um, well I can make disappearing tricks like the girl he fighted. Close your eyes, Daddy.
Chuckie: (Closes eyes.) Okay, Sweetie. 
Molly: (Quickly gets up and runs behind me.) Okay, now open them.
Chuckie: (Opens eyes.) Wow. You're gone. 
Molly: (From behind me.) Poof! See, Daddy.

Chuckie: Okay, that's your power, I suppose. So, did the movie teach you anything about boyfriends and girlfriends?
Molly: Uh-huh. I should kiss my boyfriends then they can fall in love with me. Daddy, do you think that Craig could beat Jovaughn in a fight?
Chuckie: Hold old is Jovaughn?
Molly: Four. 
Chuckie: Probably.

Molly: How about Brace?
Chuckie: I don't know, Sweetie. Do you really think you should have all of your boyfriends fight each other? 
Molly: I know, Daddy. I was just pretending. And Jovaughn hates me now.

Chuckie: Why? 
Molly: (Shrugs.) Dunno. At one time he was in love with me and he wanted to kiss me. And I ran from him because you're not supposed to kiss at school.
Chuckie: That's right, you shouldn't. 
Molly: I know. Hey, Daddy, I'm a karate girl. (She yells, "Hi-yah!" and does a karate chop into the air.)

Chuckie: So was there anything you didn't like about the movie?
Molly: The bad guys.
Chuckie: Why not? 
Molly: Because they fighted him.

Chuckie: How would you rate the movie, Pixie? 
Molly: Um, can I give it stars and moons and suns now, Daddy?
Chuckie: You can rate it however you like. 
Molly: Okay, I'll give it sixteen-eight-twenty-ninety stars. Say "whoa", Daddy.

Chuckie: Why? 
Molly: Because that's a heckalotta stars.
Chuckie: Okay. Whoa.
Molly: Thanks, Daddy,

Chuckie: How many moons? 
Molly: Sixty-ninety-twenty-eighty. Say "whoa, whoa."

Chuckie: Whoa, whoa. How many suns? 
Molly: Sixty-hundred-ninety-zero.

Chuckie: Do you think people would like this movie? 
Molly: Yes, because it's so good.

Chuckie: Who do you think would like this movie, Sweetie? 
Molly: Um. Craig and Lindsey. I got them a picture poster for it. They're gonna love it and hang it up in their room and say "wow" whenever they see it.

Chuckie: That's very sweet, Pixie. Anything else you want to say about the movie? 
Molly: I like the girl a lot and a lot and a lot. And I want to be like her and have white and blue hair like she has. 
Chuckie: And have boyfriends fighting over you like she had?
Molly: No. Just them fighting Jovaughn.

So, that's our review. I thought that the movie was brilliant and quite entertaining. While it is nice to see Michael Cera move past stammering awkwardness, it is even more impressive to see the vision that Edgar Wright can pull off beyond the subdued visuals of his previous works. The music takes on a life of its own in the movie (literally) and it combines perfectly with the visuals. Ultimately the depth of the story is a little light, but that does not matter. This movie is pure fun, even if it is slightly depressing to think that I am probably supposed to be too old to enjoy it.

I give it a solid four out of five stars. I probably would have given it another half-star for every five years younger I was, but being married with a kid and in my thirties, I feel I have to deduct at least one star so that younger folk do not get too upset that I liked the movie too much and can still think that I don't really "get" it.
Molly gives it sixteen-eight-twenty-ninety stars, sixty-ninety-twenty-eighty moons and sixty-hundred-ninety-zero suns. Apparently the movie has also taught her a lot about relationships and my friend Craig who is in his twenties and "her boyfriend" is going to have to kick four-year old Jovaughn's ass. Apparently my daughter is going after an Evil League of Current Boyfriends.

*For the record, my wife is rather awesome in the fact that she does not really care for any of these movies anyway.