Saturday, August 14, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The Reel Rhino

...Scott Pilgrim wins...1000 points and an extra life!

The Scott Pilgrim vs. The World trailer has been parked at the bottom of the blog for the past month or so.  I have made no bones about the fact that I have been looking forward to this film for some time now.

I was not disappointed.

The Reel Rhino has been accused of being slightly too critical of late.  I apologize for nothing...but, I do respect everyone's right to their own opinions about movies.  I found DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS, THE OTHER GUYS, and SALT to be only slightly entertaining and I thought they were much more disappointing than anything, based mostly on the super-hype surrounding these star-studded flicks.

The drought is over (THANK GOD!). 

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a work of art.  It touches on a run of pop culture ranging from the Nintendo-era video games, to Seinfeld, to punk/dance/techno driven alternative flavor music of today's youth and the musically hip.  Combine this with some of the most fun and inventive fight scenes I have seen in quite some time and you have something that can be described, but not with the justice a viewing of this movie will do for understanding the epic epicness of this epic.

Watching this movie was like watching the Matrix if it were set in the world of Super Mario Brothers with dialogue on par with the wittiest moments of Juno and by scored by The White Stripes.  If that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, let me say it has me drooling like an idiot.

Director Edgar Wright is best known to American audiences for Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, both British films that are parodies of the zombie-flick and buddy-cop genres, respectively.  Also out there on the fringe of mainstream cinema was Wright's mock-trailer DON'T at the intermission of the Tarantino/Rodriguez GRINDHOUSE double feature.  A cult fav of Wright fans and recommended watching for any newcomers is his series SPACED, which first paired him with the British comedy duo of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg.
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD is a showcase of young talent and when combined with a director with Wright's finger on the pulse of pop-culture, the results are genius.  With only a single noticeable bit of product placement for Coke Zero, one could argue that the scenarios are somewhat of a self-aware parody of our CONSUMPTION with the pop world, at the same time as being a very solid entry into the world of pop culture in the films own right.

As a genre, I would call Scott Pilgrim a romance-action-comedy, with emphasis on the comedy complimented beautifully by poetic action set pieces.

This is really a movie better seen than described, but in a nutshell...

Our lovable man-boy hero Scott Pilgrim is played by lovable man-boy actor, Michael Cera.  He opens the film as a member of the three-piece band, Sex Bob Omb.  Speaking of, one of my favorite characters was the fiery red-haired drummer Kim Pine, played masterfully by Allison Pill, who was also genius in Gus Van Sant's MILK.  The band is prepping for an upcoming battle of the bands competition and Scott is slightly distracted by his new high school girlfriend, Knives Chau.  Knives is a presented as an underage, Chinese, Catholic-schoolgirl, and by the accounts of all of Pilgrim's friends, including his gay roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin) and sister Stacey (Anna Kendrick), Scott is treading into very dangerous and questionable waters. 

Smash cut to a party filled with only the coolest of cool folks in town.  Scott, meet Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead aka Lucy McLane in Live Free or Die Hard).  Ramona, meet Scott.  Scott kicks his lame pick-up game to a fail and then falsely promises to disappear and never to see Ramona again.  Scott, through an purchase (she's a delivery girl), manages to get Ramona to his house and talk her into a date.

The two share an awkward first date and one thing leads to another and Ramona decides to come see Scott and Sex Bob Omb play in the battle of the bands.  It is at this battle that the real battle begins.  Scott meets his first opponent from Ramona's LEAGUE OF EVIL EX'S.  His task, if he wishes to date Ramona, is to defeat all seven of her EVIL EX'S.  The first of his opponents is MATTHEW PATEL, played by Satya Bhabha in only his third acting role, per IMDB.  This first battle is both exhilarating in its presentation and hilarious in its execution.

From here, things really take off!  The full roster of the League of Evil Ex's includes PATEL as well as 
These battles are epic and throw in some year-old heartache thanks to the reappearance of Scott's EX, ENVY, and the pining of the recently dumped KNIVES, and you've got yourself quite an adventure.

Perhaps what is so remarkable is the conversion of Michael Cera into something resembling JET LI in terms of action film fighting ability.  It is unrealistic, but it is this hyper-realism that brings us some of the most entertaining moments.

I loved this movie.  I think it is worth a trip to the theater.  My only regret is that I saw it projected from a film copy and not digital.  I think this film will shine on a digital screen and my next trip to see it will be at a digital theater, I promise you that.

The 400 person auditorium was about 1/4 full and my audience was very responsive in both laughs and back-slapping chatter as folks left the theater, so I think the general reaction was good.  Perhaps not everyone was as giddy like a schoolboy like me, but it is a fun, fun movie to watch. 

This is a PG-13 movie and the curses are few and far between and there is little sex or drugs (but lots of rock n roll!), with only some references to gay relationships that are played for laughs (and not in a bad way, just in a comedic one).  Actually, some of the worst curses are "censored" in a running sight gag with Aubrey Plaza, a brilliant actress who is Julia Powers here and who can also be found on Parks and Recreation, playing April, Ron's agitated assistant.  She brings the same passion to this project and every word out of her mouth brings a smile to my face.

I loved every song in this movie and I will definitely be picking up the soundtrack.  Some of the tunes are a bit more edgy in sound, but intermixed with the 1980's techno-video game feel, it plays pitch perfect to me.

This is my love letter to Scott Pilgrim, Edgar Wright, and to Brian Lee O'Malley, creator of the graphic novel on which this film is based. 

Please go see this movie.  It is one that shouldn't be missed on the big screen. 

5 of 5 BIG HUGE RHINO HORNS for this perfectly executed romp into film.

I will be seeing the EXPENDABLES also this weekend.  I have a good feeling that the REEL RHINO Horn-Meter will be flying high again.  The Expendables is not Shakespeare, but it will be everything that is great about the 1980-2000 era action flicks that star in this summer BLOCKBUSTER.  Stallone, you ma-ma-ma-make me happ-eeee! (See also, Tropic Thunder and Simple Jack!)

For now, get out there and see something...till later, take care...


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