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August 25, 2010

Scott Pilgrim... What The Hell Went Wrong???

Way back in May we had 2010 Summer Movie Week here at CCD and all of the contributors gave us the top 5 movies that they were looking forward to. My top 5 was headlined by Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. I could not look at the slate of upcoming flicks without this particular entry jumping out at me, so I picked it first. It has been a pretty lackluster summer, and as the week of August 11th came closer I began to hope that Pilgrim would salvage it for me. It did. It most certainly did. Despite the fact that I felt the movie was pretty perfect, it has bee a miserable failure at the box office and has been panned by a few "traditional" movie critics. How is this possible??? It has taken me a few days, but I have some theories.

First of all, let me start with what I thought the film got right... and its just about everything. Edgar Wright was a perfect fit for this project from its inception. I am a huge fan of Hot Fuzz & Shaun of the Dead, and Pilgrim continues the tradition of instant classics that come from Wright. Next, lets talk about the cast. Have we ever seen a better cast put together to fit the look of previously imagined characters before. Take a look at this:

These are just a few of the excellent casting choices and their comic book couterparts. Chris Evans was born to play uber-douche Lucas Lee. Kieran Caulkin is a perfect Wallace Wells. Mary Elizabeth Winstead looks so natural with un-naturally colored hair as Ramona Flowers. Allison Pill is a perfect cunt as Kim Pine, and Brandon Routh is wonderful as Super-Vegan Todd Ingram. Is there anyone better to play the evil Gideon "G-Man" Graves than Jason Schwartzman??? And thats just a few of them. and the there is Michael Cera as Scott himself...

Really, this is perfect casting. Perfect. I am starting to get a bit sick of Cera's non maturing body and same-in-every-movie role as just about anybody, but the dude really LOOKS like the character. Thats the first step, cast someone who fits the part. Then you hope he kills it. And he did, boy did he ever kill it. Cera gets Scott's ideosyncracies down to a T and gives, in my opinion, his best career performance to date. I know Superbad was great, but in Pilgrim Cera shines in a part that seems to have been written just for him (it wasn't, the 1st book came out in 2004, long before Cera became a star in SuperBad).

Now, lets get to the movie. Epic is the only word that I feel does it justice. Brian Lee O'malley's comic did a great job showing a cross section of various people age 17 to 20-something and embraced the things that made them individuals. Wallace is a gay party boy who loves to gossip. Ramona is looking for normality after being a bit of a maneater in her teen years. Lucas Lee is the epitomy of a Hollywood action star who can not understand why anything in the world wouldn't be about him. Kim Pine is the typical jilted lover holding a grudge against Scott while making believe everything is just fine. Natalie "NV" Adams is the rock star who made it big but longs for approval from the people in her past. Knives Chau is 17 and in love with who she thinks is a rock star, when in reality he is just a loser in a shitty local band. We all know someone like Julie Powers, seemingly working 100 jobs and popping up everywhere. And Scott is a 22 year old that just wants to get by... you guys know people like this, you are surrounded by them everyday. Wright does a phenomenal job of making us see the inside of all these characters and loving them all in their own way. Thats the strength in this movie, and its this characteristic that I think will eventually make this movie a cult classic.

Now as far as what the characters encounter in the O'Malley/Wright version of Toronto, well that seems to have been the cause for much of the criticism from these old fogey "traditional" movie critics that I have heard so far. Currently, SP has an 81% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Out of the bad reviews, there seem to be two overwhelming themes that the critics seem to be harping on. 1) Cera is no good in the lead 2) The film is too faithful to the look of the comic and unbelievable. Now I am not saying a critic should have to read all of O'Malley's comics to accurately review the movie, but give it a quick wiki search and its pretty plain to see that Cera is a no-brainer as Pilgrim. Garry Walcott of the Tri City Tribune wrote "Cast anyone else in the lead role and it might work. I assume the Scott Pilgrim of the graphic novels is actually masculine and has all the correct and working body parts."  Yeah, do ya. How 'bout you don't assume and just look at the picture above. Does he seem to be super physically fit??? What a dickbag. Margret Pomeranz, a huge film critic in Australia, said this: " She has too many exes. They should have stopped at four, because it just means these repetitive fights that are the same and they're all unbelievable and it becomes extremely tedious." Who the fuck are you to say how many characters should be in a book or movie. Unbelievable that a 20 something year old girl has seven ex's... whats so unbelievable? Oh, and its a comic book, idiots. I don't think O'Malley or Wright really means that if you destroy someone they will turn into coins. Its not Gone With The Wind, stop being so fucking serious. Then you get Tom Horgen, who is labeled as a Top Critic, saying " What's the point of being clever if you're just going to follow it up with enough flaming-sword action and exploding bad guys to make our pupils hurt?" Here is why Tom... because its an adaption of a previous work, and in that work there are flaming swords and exploding bad guys. What would you have preferred, a Victorian era adaption with bare knuckle fisticuffs so as to appear more like real life??? Well gues what. If you get that, then YOU DO NOT HAVE AN ADAPTION OF A PREVIOUS WORK BECAUSE IT IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THAN WHAT ITS BASED ON!!!!

Mr. Mike D Vs. Asshole Movie Critics
 I get that people don't have to like something. No one is saying that everyone should love Pilgrim. Just give some legit reasons other than the fact that you didn't read up on the source material, or video games and comic book style fighting isn't your thing. Honestly, Armond White may be a super douche sometimes who ruined Toy Story 3's perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, but at least he gives legit reasons why he doesn't like a film. Stop being cowards and broaden your horizons a bit. I know your 70 and


  1. You did a great job with this. This film, I think, may just be the movie of the Summer. I've seen it twice already and there's no doubt that I'll see it plenty more times before I'm out of 1-ups.

    Funny you mentioned Armond White. He hates a lot of beloved films and I checked in with him and his review of this film just yesterday. Guess what...he pretty much LOVED it!

    My new favorite film critic...well...besides you of course.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly about the film but, with all that being said, both times I went I saw quite a few people LEAVING within the first 20 minutes. These were people that presumably paid 10-15 bucks for the film (not including candy and soda)...and still thought this film was worth ditching out on. I just don't get it. I don't like to say people are stupid based on their opinion of something...but anyone who hates this film either doesn't get it...or is stupid. There, I said it. I think I only ditched out on a film once. That film was the Heath Ledger mess 'The Brothers Grimm'. Whether one likes '..Pilgrim' or was no 'Brothers Grimm'. I can't imagine that people didn't 'get' this film..and if they are paid some freakin' research. There were obviously tremendous video game and super hero winks in that film. So if you're too old to know what a good super hero film looks like, or video games came after your time....that shouldn't merit less stars in your should probably merit your retirement.

  2. Great points made here. But there are a few reasons that I can see why people didn't fall in love with this film.

    I think squeezing in all 7 exes into one film might've been a little...stuffy. I say that because by the time we reach Todd The Vegan (who was my second favorite evil ex performance next to Lucas Lee) the rest of the exes do seemed a bit rushed and repetitive. Which is a shame because they were all very different characters throughout the book series. It might've been a big risk to try and make this a two parter but I think the movie wouldn't have suffered and the story could've been told at a more enjoyable pace, especially for people who have never read the books.

    Had I not read the books, I don't think I would've been prepared for this type of storytelling. It's extremely ADD in the fact that the editing cuts you from one place to another, leaving you with a "WTF?" sort of vibe and this in general is always an uncomfortable experience. With that said, again it was so true to its original storytelling and being aware of that, it was a lot of fun and amusing at times.

    I really appreciated the loyalty this film had to its characters and story and you must give that credit to Edgar Wright. Any jerkwad who says Michael Cera was not a good fit for this character clearly has no idea what they are talking about. This is where I think that its important you have some sort of idea or knowledge about a film based on a book before heading in there and ranting about things that you haven't experienced. It's like me and these Sex & The City movies. I've never seen the show nor do I care about it either so I wouldn't waltz into a theater, watch the film then go home and write a blog about how much it sucked. Obviously movies like that are made for the people that loved the stories so much. Scott Pilgrim unfortunately falls into that same category. I am very glad that I was able to hop aboard and enjoy this film for exactly what it was worth. And whether you did read the books or not, you can't deny that this movie was a true original in its own right.

  3. People walked out on this film? I only walked out on two films in my life - 'Maximum Overdrive' and that fricken' 'Space Balls'. I hate that movie so much.

    Anyways, I thought this one was terrific and pretty much on it's way to being one of those touchstone films that people of that age group will flock to year after year. It's so telling about relationships in a modern age where everyone is trying to be someone other than who they really are or want to be. They think they have to play all these roles (be it online or in real life) and it's like fighting all those obstacles (the 7 exes) to get to the one identity or person that is perfect for you.

    The cast is perfect and the movie just flows from one epic moment to the next. And the style is just like a episodic graphic novel. Plus I will watch Anna Kendrick in anything.