I had a lot of doubts about Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim graphic novel (in six parts). It seemed to ride an uncomfortable wave of popular geekery and be drawn in way too manga-esque style for comfort. Upon a couple of positive reviews from generally reliable sources, I gave in and bought the first volume as a tryout. And liked it a lot – instead of using the music/games/whatever as a thin lacquer for just another commonplace story, the plot actually reveled and wallowed in the depths of obscure pop culture-references while putting up a decent boy-meets-girl- story.
I had my doubts about the wisdom of trying to render the novel into a movie. It is a long (and repetitive) work and contains a lot of non-realistic elements that could be so easy to miscarry on-screen.
Shouldn’t have worried, Edgar Wright’s take on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is amongst the most successful and interesting movies I’ve seen in in 2011.
The plot retains its charm and characters even with the necessary streamlining to clock in just under two hours.
Michael Cera repeats his most common role – once again he is a slightly outcast and perplexed young man, exactly like the protagonist, so there’s little danger of his mannerisms overpowering the original intent. I liked Mary Elizabeth Winstead back in Die Hard 4.0, and in Scott Pilgrim she works perfectly as Ramona Flowers, the love interest with a long past. The rest of the cast fits in as well, with the exception of Jason Schwartzmann no-one rising above or falling below the acceptable (Jason does grate after a while, once again).
As with the original, the film is packed with references to video games, movies, music and other elements of popular culture (as it originates in Japan, for the most part). I managed to recognize a tiny slice of the show, but fortunately there’s a definitive list handily available.
Scott Pilgrim is definitely not for everybody, but for those whom green mushrooms instantly recognize as 1-up it’s an experience to savour.