‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’ or — This Movie vs. My Patience?
Don’t you love surprises; when a film you’ve been avoiding actually turns out to be great? ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’ (2010) is a movie I’ve been deliberately avoiding ever since it came out as A. — it looked insufferable and B. — I can’t stand Edgar Wright’s movies (I find his style repetitive, unfunny and shallow). So imagine my surprise when I sat down and watched it last night and found it to be EXACTLY as annoying and grating as I was expecting. Seriously, this is one repugnant little movie and another of those geeksploitation films where the nerdy, narcissistic sociopath gets a trophy girlfriend by pretending life works like a video game. It makes ‘Ready Player One’ look like it was written by Erica Jong.
It doesn’t matter that Scott Pilgrim himself is massively unlikable, cheats on his girlfriends (one of whom is still a schoolgirl), plays shit music, is patronising to everyone he meets, never says or does anything remotely funny or unselfish or even human, is immune to delayed gratification and, despite his dweeby exterior, believes that violence solves everything. I have the feeling if Scott didn’t get laid that any sequel would involving him not dating a high-schooler but shooting her place up.
Scott also doesn’t learn anything, despite a number of his friends telling him (correctly) that he’s an asshole. But the film delights in this aspect of him, pinning it on Scott like a badge of honour. Sure, he’s an asshole but he’s the star of the movie and that trumps everything else and immediately makes him likeable. This demonstrates the ugly and dangerous side of cinema and should not be dismissed lightly. Besides, it’s all justified because at the end Scott redeems himself by saying ‘Sorry’, that magical get out of jail free card that makes everything better and allows Scott to get what he wants despite never having actually learned anything. If this is character growth it’s on a homeopathic level.
But that’s okay because this film is actually about director Wright showing us all his filmmaking gimmicks and tricks, gimmicks and tricks we’ve seen in every movie he’s ever made and constituted of shocking limited number. So there’s the smash cuts, micro montages, excessive Mickey Mousing in the soundtrack department, music video cutting, video game aesthetics and that’s about it. I was looking for some genuine humanity, maybe sneakily CGI’d in somewhere by the effects department, but I couldn’t find any. What I did find, however, where lazy and outdated jokes about veganism, dating schoolgirls and hitting women so if that’s your idea of funny and charming then you’re more than welcome to it but would you please mind sitting away from me?
So the story concerns 22 year old Scott Pilgrim who is dating a schoolgirl, something his friends find awesome so he’s sort of like Gary Glitter being egged on by his band mates to commit some terrible crime in the back of his tour bus. However, there’s more to Scott than this as he also has a heart and is, deep down, a romantic as he’s really in love (infatuated) with another girl who is obviously his true love because she has her hair dyed in a sort of Kate Winslet in ‘Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind’ (2004) kinda way so that means it’s deep and serious.
One, or should that be seven, problems stand in the way of Scott learning nothing and getting exactly what he wants — his new crush’s seven exes. So this sex offender must defeat all these exes by the one mode of combat all adolescents dream of, namely playing shit music in a battle of the bands contest even if battle of the bands contests where always stupid, inane and awful not just in real life but especially in the movies.
Scott defeats all these ‘evil’ people, learns nothing and gets what he wants whilst Wright shows us all his limited box of visual tricks like a creepy uncle at a kid’s party. It’s an exhausting and depressing experience and not only made me never want to be a teenager again but that I’d never even been one in the first place.
I think that’s my issue with Wright’s movies in that he never seems to have progressed beyond adolescence. In that way he’s very much like Scott himself — a grown man still hanging out with school kids constantly trying to impress them.