So, Scott Pilgrim. I liked it, I liked it a lot. But that was pretty much a given. What’s more surprising is the parts I expected to dislike didn’t bother me so much.
You see, I love the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. I also love Edgar Wright. I like Kieran Culkin, and Brandon Routh and Chris Evans. I like Beck. I like video games and 8 bit art. So, most of this movie is in my wheelhouse.
What I didn’t expect to like is Michael Cera. I don’t like him. I must confess to never watching Arrested Development, but in Juno, I just wanted to punch him, and in Superbad, I thought he would be too wimpy to pull any of that stuff off. Please do not get me started on Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist. The “He’s NOT Nick” fight of 2008 is still spoken of in whispers in my house. So, I was less than thrilled when it was announced that he was going to play Scott Pilgrim. You see, I’ve alwas thought of Scott as a bit of a badass, and the words “Michael Cera” and “bad ass” are not frequently used in the same context. However, even though movie Scott was a little more mopey and moist-eyed than comic Scott, he was still recognizably the same person.
Also, Mary Elizabeth Winstead who played Ramona managed to keep the character out of manic pixie dream-girl territory, for the most part. Sure, Ramona is mostly a hair color and a sense of ironic detachment, but that is pretty much true of the character in the graphic novels. Honestly, I really wanted Scott to wind up with Kim Pine. However, when I suggested that to my husband, he gave me a funny look. So, I guess Ramona has an appeal that is lost on me.
The film follows the first three graphic novels pretty closely, then ventures out from there. Most importantly, the film kept the whimsical and charming feel of the graphic novels. The Scott Pilgrim universe asks you to believe in demon hipster chicks and vegan superpowers. The fact that this plays as fun but not foolish, as it does in O’Malley’s comics, is what makes the film so charming. O’Malley’s aesthetic shines through the film, even when the story and setting differs radically from the text.
In my opinion, this movie acts as a $30 million book trailer for the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels. If you have not read them, please do so immediately. Bryan Lee O’Malley’s art is simple but intricate and full of life and energy. The 20 something characters are likable but believable, and Scott’s journey is much more complex and compelling on the page. You can see the movie too, but don’t stop there.