Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Best in Show: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Exuberantly committed fans of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World had a rough weekend when the film version of the beloved comic opened to a mere $10 million or so at the box office, despite a whirlwind of hype. (In its second weekend it took a standardish 53% drop). But here’s the continually forgotten truth about cult movies: by definition, they aren’t blockbusters. Their charms are only super sized to specialized audiences.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

The movie is based on a clever series of graphic novels about a lazy 23-year-old in Toronto named Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera). He plays bass in the band Sex Bob-omb. He falls hard for Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) but in order to win her heart, he has to defeat her seven evil exes in battle. These battles are staged like video games, complete with point scoring and extra lives. The hyper pacing and gamer aesthetics may be most digestible for young viewers, but there are cross-generational pleasures, too: wit and good acting know no age limitations.

One of the joys of uniformly strong ensembles is that each viewer will have a different favorite character...


(I hope you're liking my "Best in Show" series there.)
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13 comments:

JA said...

I didn't really notice Wong's performance that much the first time I saw the movie - course I was distracted by all the gee-whiz-bang of it all that first time - but the second time through she really did stand out. That heartbreak scene, while lifted visually almost identically from the page, the way the background turns to black, is immensely effective, and I love her final moment, the "I'm too cool for you anyway," bit. She totally is by that point!

RJ said...

Just had a great thought....Best in Show in Best in Show. Meta.

NATHANIEL R said...

RJ -- meta indeed. It's a war between Jennifer Coolidge and Parker Posey!

Ryan T. said...

I like your line about the joys of strong ensembles enabling each viewer to have a different favorite character... and then to point out the three the immediately popped into my head--Wallace, Kim, and Todd.

Interesting take on the Knives character though. Her role was definitely the trickiest which is even more amazing that they picked the youngest and least experienced actor to play her.

And yes, loving this series.

MD said...

Yes! I loved Wong and Routh in this film. Enough that I really felt for her when Scott broke up with her, and was kind of hoping for a kick ass fight scene for her the whole movie. I pretty much loved this movie. I really do hope it finds a bigger audience at some point.

Julian Stark said...

I'm amazed that this is Ellen Wong's film debut. Totally didn't get that vibe at all. I'd assume that she's been acting for years based on her Scott Pilgrim performance.

NATHANIEL R said...

Julian -- i know. that's partly why i chose her. She seems as seasoned and confident (even when playing a lack of confidence) as the other actors. But mostly it's because she actually has a character arc whereas most of the cast only has to sell their jokes. Which they all sell well. Routh made me laugh the hardest though. The Cleaning woman thing was just priceless.

I hope we see more of him soon in something good.

MD -- i'm sure it will.

OtherRobert said...

Wong was great, but I still loved Pill the most. She had nothing but a jaded sketch to work with and she killed it. My favorite part is how her body language shifts to pure humiliation thanks to her performance costume in the final scene. She barely has dialog but constantly pulled my attention away from the scene with how she carried herself. What can I say? I'm big on physicality in acting.

bWill said...

Kieran Culkin was my favorite with Aubrey Plaza as a close second

Robert said...

Wong was easily best in show for me. Your article reminded me how much I loved her! In second would be Pill and Culkin - besides both nailing their funny moments, they brought a wonderful amount of humanity and feeling to their characters. Without their performances Wallace and Kim would have been so hollow.

PJ said...

Nate (and others who are fans and have seen Scott Pilgrim), just wondering, is the film a better experience if you've read the comics, or does it not really matter? I'm kinda intrigued by the film, but am the sort of person who usuallly reads the source material before seeing a film adaptation.

Volvagia said...

Well, they probably couldn't get everything in, for 1 and 2: The entirety of the comic Scott Pilgrim is probably better than Watchmen. It's not a "dark and moody" book, but, at least a majority of the characters aren't psychological trainwrecks.

Volvagia said...

Edgar Wright will probably have to operate on a shoe-string next time. Danny Boyle would be a bit too..."on the nose" due to his cribbing of one of their videos for Trainspotting, but...would anyone want to see a "Making of Paul's Boutique" movie directed by Edgar Wright.