A Breath of Fresh Air: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

I love rock ‘n roll, so put another dime in the jukebox, baby!

I am a music whore – I love all types, but rock particularly gets me and grabs parts of me that the rest of the genres leave untouched.

I love U2, Led Zeppelin, George Thorogood, the Allman Brothers, Yes, Springsteen, Santana, Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult, the Ramones, Iggy Pop, The White Stripes, Daughtry, the GooGoo Dolls, Nickelback (okay, so some of my taste is questionable – I admit it).

I played rock ‘n roll in high school. 


I owned a 1959 pre-CBS Fender Stratocaster that literally rocked my world. I was part of three bands.  Something I envy about this generation was that I wasn’t part of an all-girl band.  (I’m not sure there WERE all-girl bands back then).  In fact, I was usually the only girl in the band.  And yes, I was the “girl” back then.

I was also a geek with a capital “G”. (Still am).

And I read comics.

And I fell for the nerdy guys – you know, the sweet, awkward types with no social skills.

So there was everything for me to love about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

One of my favorite books is War for the Oaks by Emma Bull.  The setting is the Minneapolis indie rock scene and I think Bull really captures the fun, energy and heartbreak of up and coming rockers (albeit set against a war between Fae and other factions, which made it even groovier), and that’s one of the many reasons I’ve read this book three times so far.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has that same energy, and this time, instead of incorporating fantasy (well, traditional fantasy elements, in any case), geekdom, romance and graphic novel craziness is incorporated.

The Ecstatic Ones (my family) rarely see movies on the big screen anymore.  It’s just too costly.  If we do see movies, we tend to see art-type films at the Michigan Theater, mostly because we like to support the Michigan Theater.  We divide all movies into “must see on the big screen”, “must see, but who cares where” and “must not see” (see the last post).  Scott Pilgrim definitely looked like big screen criteria: dreamy animation, special effects galore, searing punk rock and all kinds of cool florescent hair (trust me, florescent hair is just so much cooler when it’s 10 feet high on the screen).
My son and I were totally pumped to see this.  My husband, less so, but wanted to join.  My son and I weren’t sure about that, because usually when we see something like this, my husband comes, doesn’t enjoy it very much and then puts it down while my son and I excitedly try to rehash.  Nevertheless, the three of us set out during Sunday’s blistering hot afternoon and felt this would be a fun activity even if it wasn’t up to expectations.

It was TOTALLY up to expectations.

What may have worked best here is that the hero is not really heroic.  He is whiny, wimpy and there is no explanation (other than cool hair) why he falls in love with the mysterious woman with seven evil exes.

The object of his desire, Ramona, is fickle, strange and disconnected.  She’s pretty, but other than being mysterious, and actually liking the geeky hero (and yes, she’s out of his league), she really doesn’t have that much going for her.

His gay roommate steals his sister’s boyfriends (and the show – Keirnan Culkin is just wonderful in this role).  His band, The Sex Bo-Bombs, kind of… sucks, when they’re not pissed.  When they are pissed, they’re actually pretty darned good.

Despite Scott’s anti-hero status, concave physique and nothing of interest to talk about other than the origins of the naming of “Pac Man”, our hero seems to attract legions of cool women.  He can shred muscle-bound evil exes.  He’s man enough to share his bed with his roommate and several of his roommate’s lovers simultaneously (as long as they listen to his whiny rehashing of increasingly bizarre dreams).

What makes this work?  Hell if I know, but if you have ever loved playing in a band, ever loved someone else who plays in a band, ever loved comics, ever loved a geek, then this is just a triumphant, soaring, giddily-fun breath of fresh air and a great “summer finale” movie. 

So tell me, what great movies have you seen this summer?

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10 Responses to A Breath of Fresh Air: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

  1. anno says:

    Loved Bottle Shock, but that hardly counts as a first-run movie. Desperate one night to get out of the house (and away from the ducks) we went to see Inception, which was ok, but wouldn't win any strong recommendations from me; overall, the pickings have seemed mighty slim. This review of yours is the first time I've felt much inclined to take the time/spend the money to see anything at all in the theater: SPvtW sounds like fun worth the price of popcorn.

  2. Jen says:

    I loved Bottle Shock, too. It kind of slipped my mind. It was a great surprise. I'm interested to hear your view of Inception – it seems to be on everyone's "must see" list. We still haven't seen it.

  3. anno says:

    Well, m & M liked it, so take my opinion with a grain of salt …

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I get some credit for War for the Oaks, right?

  5. Jen says:

    Yes, Elizabeth, you get ALL credit for War For the Oaks. Again, my thanks!Anno – I think we'll still have to see Inception, because M and m often like the same kinds of movies that son and I do, and it also seems like it has to be Big Screen viewing.

  6. Goofball says:

    Over the last years no movies have it made to my "must see on big screen" list at all….haven't been in a movie theatre in 3 years I think.yes, going to the movies is expensive so I set my must see criteria so high…that we see it on dvd or tv a few years afterwards :p. As a result I'm somehow not up to date anymore on movie releases in general. But in all seriousness, I have never heard of this movie before. I wonder if it will be released in Belgium. It's not listed on http://www.cinebel.be which is a pretty good portal on any movie (soon to be) released in Belgium.

  7. Jen says:

    Goofball, I'm not sure it would really "translate", culturally – it's very much a North American movie, I think. It's also sort of an indie movie, so they may be seeing how it goes here before distributing it.

  8. Really though, the reason that we buy more music games isn’t the characters or the graphics. We buy more games for the songs. Band Hero has a very nice range of pop songs from several generations. There are songs from as far back as Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” and as new as Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” with a whole bunch in between from bands like Poison, Everclear, Filter, Duran Duran, Devo, and many more. I’d venture to say that there’s something on here for everyone. There are 65 songs total and a whole bunch more that can be imported from Guitar Hero World Tour, Guitar Hero Smash Hits, and Guitar Hero 5 (some at a fee).

  9. Clark Laumeyer says:

    From gigantic domes that keep out pollution to face masks with fancy fiber filters, purifiers and even canned air, Chinese businesses are trying to find a way to market that most elusive commodity: clean air.*

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  10. Perhaps it’s something to do with the band’s fragility, that failure to deliver. Their back catalogue is minimal, their career a depressing tale of squandered talent, dodgy contracts, amateurish management, chemical excess. Other well-loved bands – the Smiths , Oasis – managed at least four albums before everything went nasty. The Stone Roses made two, with five-and-a-half years between them; and the second one broke their spirit, along with that of three producers. They never made it in America; they never achieved their potential. Is that why they’re still so worshipped?

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