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‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’ (2010) and The 1 UP EXTRA LIFE Moment

Once upon a time… in Toronto… a lovable nerd had to defeat his girlfriend’s 7 evil exes before he could take their relationship to the next “level.” Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) directs this unlikely romance with hyper-stylized action sequences that blow most Hollywood blockbusters away. Wright puts his own super ecclectic spin on a familiar and tired genre. This superhero cult classic was way ahead of its time. Gamers will be overly excited with the abundant retro video game flavour this film is slathered with.

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This tasty treat may be the sweetest Valentine’s candy you’ve ever had. If you haven’t heard of this blow-your-mind hidden gem yet… you’re welcome.

Universal Pictures

Let’s Talk Scott Pilgrim vs the World: Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) shares a cramped apartment with his gay best-friend (Kieran Culkin), while he struggles to make it big with his punk band, Sex Bob-omb. Scott’s love life is in just as much shambles as his career choices are. That is until he meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead from The Thing remake, Quentin Tarantino’s Deathproof, and the upcoming 10 Cloverfield Lane). To date her, Scott has to defeat her evil exes in video game style versus battles.

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The Set-Up: Round One… Fight! The totally rad ensemble cast is just as ahead of the curve as Wright’s style. Starring alongside Cera and Winstead are Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, and Brie Larson. Culkin probably has the best co-starring role as Scott’s best friend, Wallace. He constantly spits sarcastic venom to our enjoyment, but you can tell he also cares about his buddy, trying to help him on this adventure of love. A great example of the comedy comes when he asks Scott about the “L” word. Our awkward hero replies, “Lesbian?” Wallace retorts, “The other ‘L’ word.” “Lesbians?”

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A lot of the charm of this strange film also comes from how goofy the self-aware comedy gets. Depending on how nerdy you are, there are tons of laughs from comic book and video game references. Wright’s over-the-top visuals include comic book captions for the action, like “Whoosh” or “Thonk”. When enemies are defeated they explode into a shower of coins, not Super Mario Nintendo currency, but Canadian $1 and $2 coins. If Scott does well and improves friendships he gets power ups, x2 combo bonuses, and score boosts. This is unlike any movie you have ever seen, perfectly blending all things geeky.

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Music is a huge part of the story, since Scott is in a band. Songs come from current bands, playing as fictional ones, like Beck writing Scott’s music. The zany visual style extends to the sound design as well. Comic book action lines not only accompany a punch or kick, but also the shredding of guitar chords or banging on the drum.

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The main spectacle comes from the cartoony battle sequences, like a fight with Chris Evans’ action hero character and an ex-girlfriend from Ramona’s bi-curious past (who is now “bi-furious”). These smaller fights all build up to the ultimate final fight. By this time, Scott has levelled up with some dope upgrades like a flaming sword earned from “the power of self respect.”

THAT MOMENT IN SCOTT PILGRIM: Battle of the Bands gets literal when Scott and his crew take on Anime Twin DJs who just happen to be evil exes. This is a two stage duel. Scott kicks it off with his band, “We are Sex Bob-omb, and we’re here to make you think about death and get sad and stuff.” Cue the plucking of heavy fuzz guitar strings, “This is the beginning of the song” – and the beginning of this battle. This versus match gets insane. The DJ’s music turns into giant dragons that Scott must defeat in a face-melting clash of the titans that literally tears the roof off.

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Wright embues the action with so much energy it nearly overwhelms the viewer; however, those who are on board will bathe in pure delight. There has never been a movie like this. It’s so ahead of the curve a lot of the audience had no idea what to make of it. This is true sensory overload. If you dig it, you’ll be so “amped” your brain will react like a Marty McFly power-chord was struck. Translation: mind blown!

NERD ALERT: Now, imagine if Edgar Wright stayed on Ant-man? They must have kept some of his pre-production work or pre-vis animatics because some of those miniature scenes really feel like Scott Pilgrim.

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That Moment occurs after the insanity of the battle. Scott earns a “1 Up” extra man, 8-Bit style. By the way, extra nerd bonus points go to the filmmakers for the Mega Man power-up design. His band asks what he’s doing and Scott replies, “Getting a life.” Our hero exits stage left ready to save Ramona.

Cinema Remembered: This cult classic is never boring. There is so much going on that multiple viewings are required to absorb it all. Check out the totally awesome video for the Clash at Demonhead above. This is just one example. Pay attention to the style and the editing, and the rhythm it creates. The energy crackles with life. Anime influence also rubs off with slashing panels splitting the screen.

 

Canadian band Metric gave their song “Black Sheep” to the film. Golden Globe winner Brie Larson (as Scott’s evil ex-girlfriend, Envy) seems to be singing her own version on screen. The video will give you a sense of what’s in store. It can’t be said enough… Scott Pilgrim was way ahead of its time. Largely ignored upon initial release, this bizarre mash-up of comedy, romance, video games, anime, comic books / manga, music, and superhero action has developed a devoted fanbase in the following years.

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Rarely has a comic book film captured the essence of the medium as beautifully as this epic hidden gem does. Your cup overfloweth with nerd when you watch Scott Pilgrim. Get drunk on geeky and enjoy your new favourite cult classic.

Director:

Edgar Wright

Screenplay:

Edgar Wright & Michael Bacall

Stars:

Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Brie Larson, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Brandon Routh

 

Next Week: Post Valentine’s let’s Remember to forget our evil exes… like Jim Carrey tries to do in ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND.

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