For those that don’t know Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was a movie that was released in 2010, and by all accounts under-performed in the box office. However since then, it has become in many eyes, a cult classic and has a very dedicated following that finds late night throwback screenings. Places like the New Beverly Cinema in California have a regular event for the movie. However, from my personal own experience people either really love the film, or they absolutely despise it. I’m guessing it isn’t hard to guess which side of the fence I fall on. I absolutely love this film for numerous reasons, like its stellar cast or amazing effects. But let me tell you why it is even better than it gets credit for despite the fact that it was a box office flop. Or maybe you thought it was even better than I thought it was, in which case this article is just me fanboying.
And yes, I’m well aware of the fact that I’m super biased because I’m in love with Mary-Elizabeth Winstead and the character of Ramona Flowers. But seriously, how can you not be?
I’m not even sure I need to even say anything else.
4. It Adapted 6 Books Into One Movie and Still Respected the Source Material
I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I’ve read all of the books, and seen all of the movies and overall I feel like it is a job well done, but in a lot of ways I feel like it couldn’t decide at certain points whether they wanted to deviate from the book or they wanted to be a stickler and change absolutely nothing. Twilight? I’m not so familiar, haven’t seen the movies or read the books, but I hear it’s not a terrible adaptation. Lord of the Rings is a very well done adaptation as well. So why is Scott Pilgrim worth mentioning? It adapted 6 books into a movie before the 6th book even came out. And while Edgar Wright initially got the ending wrong, he got the core of the story correct. And yes they are graphic novels, as opposed to novels that were previously mentioned, but a movie like 300 is adapted from 1 graphic novel, and Edgar Wright worked with 6 and turned it into a crisp well-paced film.
For the parts of the story he decided to cut, he left small clever references to the moment. Knives Chau has a badass dad in the books, but isn’t in the movies, he is mentioned by Knives at one point though. Crash and the Boys play a bit of a bigger role in the book, but since they are smoked by a stray fireball they too are a small reference to the book. There are a bunch more things like this but the movie does a good job of keeping the lessons and themes of the books, which we will get back to later. And I know that there are entire aspects like Subspace essentially left out, but even that is referenced to, because Scott first saw Ramona in his dreams, similar to how Subspace worked in the books.
3. It Has an Insane Amount of Detail
The movie has amazing easter eggs and references to video games obviously. However, did you ever notice how many times each evil ex references their number in the league of evil exes? I’m sure you saw the big honking numbers that floated above or around or on the characters when it happened. And possibly even the points that correlated after defeating each evil ex. But did you consider that Matthew Patel, Ramona’s first evil ex has his hair parted to ONE side of his face? Or that when he enters Wallaces refers to him as “Look it’s that ONE guy”. And why is he always pointing with only his ONE index finger?
Think I’m grasping at straws? Let’s move forward then. Lucas Lee is evil ex number two. Aside from having TWO L’s in his name at the start, his skate company takes his TWO L’s as their logo, he has a TWO tattooed to the side of his neck, his belt buckle has TWO X’s on it. Maybe, if he somehow validated a connection to the last character Scott fought. I don’t know, maybe by pointing with TWO fingers instead.
“I don’t know Brian… Still seems iffy.” Ok ok, let’s keep going then, but this could have been an article by itself.
That’s Todd Ingram, Ramona’s third evil ex. Big THREE on the shirt. But he also has three stripes on his shirt. He throws Scott through walls in THREE separate sequences. On the last sequence, he throws him through THREE walls. There are more, but I’m trying to get to the big kahuna. Roxie is originally spelled with an IE in the books, but is changed to a Y for the movie, why? Roxy = 4 letters, 4th evil ex. The twins are worth 5000 and 6000 points respectively. However their references are more about the number 11 because 5+6=11 when they turn up the power on their turn tables? Notch 11. Moving on. The Seventh Evil Ex is Gideon Graves. The gum that he swallows by accident will be stuck in him for SEVEN years. Finally, just to put the icing on the cake.
The only thing that would make this more in your face is if they shoehorned this in there:
Oh, and just in case, refer to the front picture for this article. Notice how Scott is wearing a shirt that says zero. As in he isn’t or won’t become an evil ex.
2. The Editing
Granted, this might be a bit of the editor/film geek in me coming out, but hear me out. The movie is visually beautiful with it’s effects and hilarious with its minor onscreen add ons.
Aside from all of this though, the pace of the movie is so fast and quick that you if for one second you immerse yourself and buy into the movie, you’re in for the whole ride. The movie goes from scene to scene and set to set with little filler. That isn’t to say it doesn’t have it’s beautiful simple moments such as simply taking a walk, which happens quite often in the movie, yet, why don’t you notice that there are at least 5 or 6 scenes of people just walking and talking, because of how beautifully edited the transitions are and how well paced the movie is. Want an example of this beautiful editing? Watch this scene.
In another movie, Knives probably would have come in and Scott would be hiding in a closet or something. Or maybe Knives would have just left, but this movie is shot and edited in a way to show the comic bookish nature of the film and the source material, as well as keep the film moving along.
1. The Theming
On the surface Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is an action movie comedy with some romance and a layer of video games. Or maybe it’s a comedy with some action and romance. Or maybe its a romance with some comedy and action. These are all fair analyses of the movie, but what lessons does the movie teach you? Don’t date two girls at the same time? Sure. Fight for what you love? Absolutely. Don’t live in the past? Definitely. What a lot of people seem to miss about the movie though, is the coming of age aspect that the movie presents. Scott grows from a meek timid 22 year-old to a grown ass man who understands that he fights for love, but to actually win? He has to have Self-Respect. And in this case Self-Respect is a badass sword.
What does that mean lesson wise though? You have to respect yourself before you’re ready to love. As in you have to take charge of your life and take responsibility for your actions, such as when Scott confessed about how he wronged Knives. Whoa. That’s a pretty grown up lesson if you ask me.
Listen. Do I think this movie has flaws? Absolutely. Many characters are not fleshed out, and some who were integral to the book don’t even appear. Do I think the books are better? No question. The growth of the other characters in the books is amazing. Full with its own twists and turns, and as much as I like Ramona Flowers in the movie, I absolutely love the book character, and I wish they had done more toward showing her development. I’ll always agree to disagree if this movie just isn’t someone’s cup of tea, but when they attempt to argue the movie is “lazy”, “stupid”, or even “pointless” it irks me. With great storytelling, beautiful editing, and a pretty good homage to the books, I think this movie is better than it gets credit for. So, if you ever get in an argument with someone about this movie, feel free to point them here. I know I will. You thought all of these things all along? Oh. Uh, well then, I owe you a cookie.
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