Rewind Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to watch a movie, read a comic book and play a video game at the same time then wonder no longer because Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has the answers. And to give you a hint it’s quite delightful.

What makes it even better is that this isn’t a film that wastes any screen time trying to rationalize, explain or instruct its audience members as to why the universe of the film functions the way it does, which makes it one of the most whimsical journeys you’re likely to have on screen. The bottom line is either you get the jokes or you don’t and if you’re overly-concerned about why someone who gets knocked out explodes into a pile of coins then this really isn’t the film for you.

This is a film that dares to be different amongst a forest of look-a-likes and wannabes and just on that alone this film is worth the price of admission. It is one of the most dazzlingly inventive films to come along in years and a much needed breath of fresh air.


This film is very funny but funnier than most because its funny to its core meaning not only does the comedy spawn from the characters, as what they say and do matches their personality but being very much a comic book and video game on film as well it is replete with sight gags most of which you have to keep your eyes peeled for.

To put it mildly this is somewhat of a departure for the wildly talented director of this film, Edgar Wright. The man who was until this point most well-known for his brilliant comedy-homages Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Wright took a bold step in this film and boy is it ever a rewarding one.

The film never backs down from its vision or concept from the beginning. There are constantly familiar gaming interfaces and from comics action lettering, split-panels and the like to adron the imagery.


Yet all this invention and gadgetry would only go so far without the right cast in place and this film certainly has that going for it as well. If Michael Cera isn’t overexposed he’s certainly very close, however, true overexposure only comes when you stop doing good work and if there was ever a part suited for him to play it is this. He brings comedy to the simplest lines, he engenders sympathy and understanding even when his decisions aren’t the most sound. He’s the ideal, awkward everyman of the moment and he shines in this part. Kieran Culkin, as his roommate Wallace is also a picture perfect choice, even given his over-the-top flamboyant lifestyle it makes sense and you believe it when he is the one who is trying to get Scott’s life in order.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the object of Scott’s affection, Ramona Flowers, brings the perfect balance of cool-masking-past-pain to the equation and conversely Ellen Wong, playing Knives Chau, develops perfectly in both directions and plays both obsessive groupie and jilted girlfriend perfectly and to add further balance to the equation is Wilmington native Aubrey Plaza, playing Julie Powers, who hates Scott’s guts from start to finish.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World not only dares to be different but succeeds with flying colors and creates something completely and totally original. It’s a film that may not have found its niche in the marketplace just yet but take a seat and watch it however you can manage it because you likely won’t regret it as you’ve scarcely seen anything like it. Game over.


Year-End Dash: The World’s End

The tremendously fun thing in retrospect about the first two installments of the now-referred-to-as The Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz being the first two) is not just the fact that they start fairly parodist but metamorphose to the parodied (sub)genre rather brilliantly. That and upon re-viewing the films you can see how brilliantly it all holds up together. I didn’t get to see this film until now so obviously I don’t have the benefit of a revisit yet, but there are some odd things in good ways and not-so-good ways about this film. The humor, the performances and the kinetic editing are there. Gary (Simon Pegg’s) character has an arc setting up for him right away, and that’s also good. I’ve commented this year on how I like a weird sequel and the thing is you never know what to expect with this combination of stars and director so it’s not like expectation is a huge stumbling block.

There’s good and apparent commentary on lots of things like nostalgia, aging, alcoholism, technology and the eternal “At what price progress?” questions; however, the fenestration which matters less here than in prior films is where it gets muddy. Things are found out and some pieces are picked up nicely and some pay-offs are brilliant, but some of the necessary exposition is rushed and doesn’t quite compute. There’s something newer in the offing and how omnipresent the parody element is here is a bit lost on me. However, what they’re creating in the end, is always new and there’s a point where I felt I was chasing it a bit too much; not such that I didn’t get it or like it, but that I felt I could’ve absorbed and liked it more with a bit more time in acts two and three.


Five Most Outstanding Fake Movies

One a recent episode of Jessie a faux Danish arthouse film was mentioned in passing. It was called Cries of Ice and Pain and elicited from me one of the few genuine laughs that show can ever get. However, it did bring to mind that there are quite a few fake movie titles mentioned or chronicled either in a film or on TV shows that are funny and in some cases that I’d want to see.

What I will list below are just the five most outstanding examples that come directly to mind. I’m sure I like many others, and as I’ve said before no list is ever complete, and I’d welcome additions to this list and other suggestions.

Je Vous Présente Paméla (Meet Pamela) in François Truffaut’s Day for Night

Day for Night (1973, Les Filmes du Carrosse)

I have a long history with Day for Night. Since I first saw the film I have watched it anew on the eve of every new production I’ve directed. While Day for Night is about the production of the aforementioned film there are but fragmentary glimpses of what the film actually is. However, there is enough information that would make it an enticing view. It may seem, in terms of the synopsis we get, to be a plain film, but the scenes viewed suggest otherwise.

The Purple Rose of Cairo in The Purple Rose of Cairo

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985, MGM/UA)

Woody Allen’s faux film may be eponymous with the one he actually created. However, Allen beautifully and lovingly created Golden Age touchstones that made Farrow’s character’s obsession strike very true. While I personally, based on what is shown, may not have become obsessed with the tale, I could if a whole existed and I admire it for inducing such passion.

Don’t in Grindhouse

When dealing with faux films that are conveyed through faux trailers there are quite a few options one could consider. The bumps at the beginning of Tropic Thunder being quite memorable. However, if my wanting to see the film is a criteria, and is that an accurate rendition of a trailer style is also, then I must include Edgar Wright’s Don’t from Grindhouse. It not only emulates trailers of a certain era, but is also a hilarious send-up of the horror genre. For what else do people yell out at characters more than “Don’t…”?

The Pain and the Yearning on Seinfeld

Seinfeld (Castle Rock Entertainment)

The faux title that was the genesis for this post in all likelihood owes a debt to this Seinfeld faux film. I highly doubt there was a sitcom ever that created a vaster array of fake films than did Seinfeld. As with all things Seinfeld, the films are quite memorable, such as the tagline from Death Blow, or the climactic moment in Cry, Cry Again that is taped over with Elaine’s awkward, spastic dance. The amazing thing is we never see these films at all. In this episode we see video tape boxes, on occasion one sheets, and this is as close to seeing the film we ever get. It’s mostly about voice acting, scoring and the dialogue the main characters have about the film. What made me choose this one is that the one-line synopsis Elaine reads is “An old woman experiences pain and yearning,” which is a hilarious send up of the vague synopses some film have, particularly art films that are harder to summarize.

The Foot from Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (2011, 20th Century Fox)

One very old trope by now is: kids, without their parent or guardian knowing, watch a horror film and are terrified for the rest of the night. They subsequently cannot sleep and/or get paranoid about everything. Perhaps the best twist on this I’ve seen is The Foot in Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 because the film they watch is highly ridiculous, but then they’re scared by it making an old hat routine much funnier than it normally is.

As mentioned before there are likely many other ideas that could’ve been on here. I’d be gladly reminded of some.