REVIEW: Sexless Geek Isn't as Heroic, Romantic as Scott Pilgrim Thinks

Movieline Score: 3

Everyone has the right to love the relics of his or her childhood: PacMan as opposed to Grand Theft Auto, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles over Dora the Explorer, New Kids on the Block trumping Taylor Swift. But nostalgia can be as cloying as it is comforting, and there comes a time when that wardrobe of ringer T's emblazoned with cartoon characters ought to be left behind. Especially if you're a grown-up guy and you have any interest in, you know, actually sleeping with a girl.

Scott Pilgrim, the knock-kneed hero of Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, hasn't figured that out yet, and his persistent Trix-are-for-kids schtick is supposed to be charming. As he's played by Michael Cera, Scott is meant to be the underdog you root for -- you should want him to get the girl. But to get the girl -- in this case, a deadpan minx named Ramona, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead -- shouldn't he have to express some interest in her, to progress beyond moony-eyed infatuation? To talk to her, to find out what she likes and doesn't like, to avoid boring her with useless trivia that's of interest only to him, to make something other than garlic bread when he invites her over for dinner?

But Scott Pilgrim is a superhero who wears his security blankie as both a cape and a force field: His own feelings of uncertainty are all that matter, and they're the motor that drives Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, with all the ferocity of a rubber band wound around a propeller. Scott is an aimless 22-year-old living in Toronto. We'll later learn that he's "between jobs," though what he might want to do with his life is never made clear. For now, he spends his days practicing with his rock band (a suitably noisy little outfit called Sex Bob-Omb) and also happens to be dating, if only half-heartedly, a 17-year-old from a local high school, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), who's clearly flattered by this older guy's attention and worships him and his band breathlessly.

Scott's bandmates (played by Mark Webber and Alison Pill; Johnny Simmons is their hanger-on and roadie) tease him mildly about Knives, though they realize she's a nice kid. And Knives is certainly easy to impress: She listens to Scott's stream of prattling about the genesis of Pac-Man as if it were some sort of holy text. But the woman Scott will really fall for, Winstead's Ramona, isn't so easy to please. When he first spots her -- she's a cranky beauty with a shock of fuchsia hair -- it's love at first sight. But she's not interested in his PacMan factoids. What gives? He pressures her, in a gratingly low-key way, to go on a date with him, and she relents. But as their involvement becomes more serious, Scott learns that to win his love object he must complete a series of tasks: As the result of some not-really-explained curse, he must vanquish Ramona's former paramours -- otherwise known as the Seven Evil Exes -- with nothing but his own scrawny limbs and perhaps his bass guitar.

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Comments

  • Randy says:

    Just wondering if the critic read the books before watching the movie....

  • Trace says:

    I lol'd...
    ...but who is "she"?

  • Trace says:

    She's a movie critic. It's not necessary to read the book to enjoy the movie.

  • Trace says:

    Cool story, bro.

  • Trace says:

    "IS it really that DRASTIC of a conclusion?"
    Because it's wrong, yes.
    "If she's trashing two films that were otherwise well received for inventiveness alone, is that far-fetched?"
    Scott Pilgram was barely well-recieved. And then look at that tiny little number: 2.
    "since you have such a RAGING HARD-ON for defending this troglodyte why don't you cite some examples that show otherwise? kthxbai"
    Would you suggest that Hellboy, Jonah Hex, or pretty much every other Micheal Cera movie + Adventureland, or her Speed Racer review (which referred to the Matrix as "dazzling sci-fi entertainment"), or Serenity...all aimed at twentysomething fanboys.

  • Trace says:

    You fail. Nice try though.

  • Trace says:

    Cool Story, bro.

  • Shannon says:

    They didn't ask if it was necessary. They asked if they did read the book. Could be a genuine question for some people.

  • Trace says:

    It may be genuine but how is it relevant?

  • RJF says:

    I gather the impression that this review is less a consideration of the film as it is the sort of man that Zacharek doesn't want to date. Thank you for sharing your relationship woes with us, but I'd prefer more about the movie I came here to read about.

  • martisco says:

    I hate Michael Cera, I think the Scott Pilgrim books are shittily drawn, and I'm one of the millions of Americans who never once thought about seeing this movie this weekend. The end.

  • audio says:

    Hmm considering you liked Jonah Hex and didn't like Inception or this movie, that's pretty much all the info i need to write off your opinion completely. I mean yeah you're entitled to it. But it's wrong.
    And Trace do you really need to respond to every goddamn comment on here? You need to insert your head just a liiiittle farther up her ass.

  • audio says:

    Hmm considering you liked Jonah Hex and didn't like Inception or this movie, that's pretty much all the info i need to write off your opinion completely. I mean yeah you're entitled to it. But it's wrong.
    And Trace do you really need to respond to every goddamn comment on here? You need to insert your head just a liiiittle farther up her ass.

  • Trace says:

    "Hmm considering you liked Jonah Hex and didn't like Inception or this movie, that's pretty much all the info i need to write off your opinion completely. "
    Have you actually SEEN Jonah Hex, or are just one of the millions of mindless sheep who wrote it off based on how well it scored with other critics?
    "I mean yeah you're entitled to it. But it's wrong."
    There's no right and wrong opinion.
    "And Trace do you really need to respond to every goddamn comment on here? You need to insert your head just a liiiittle farther up her ass."
    ...said the guy who said opinions are wrong.
    By the way, I don't respond to every comment. Use your eyes to see.

  • audio says:

    Yeah i did see Jonah Hex. And i saw Inception. And i saw Scott Pilgrim.
    Jonah Hex was embarrassing, a run of the mill Hollywood mess in which they take fantastic source material and instead of following any of it, throw it out the window and create garbage for dudes what like when stuff go boom. Scott Pilgrim on the other hand was a director taking fantastic source material and adapting it for the screen being as faithful as he could and changing things that needed to be changed for the transition.
    As for my opinions remark i was being facetious. Obviously a persons opinion can't be wrong. And i was generalizing when saying you respond to EVERY comment. I assumed you'd be able to pick up on that but apparently you need it spelled out for you cause you take everything you read on the Internets for serious. Let me try again.
    Stephanie is entitled to her opinion. As horrible and tasteless as it might be. It isn't wrong. It's just unfortunate.
    You felt the need to respond to A LOT of comments. But not every one. Kudos on your "restraint".
    Better?

  • Gene Parmegan says:

    That "his own feelings of uncertainty are all that matter" was kind of the whole point. It wasn't laying it out like that was something to be aspired to, that was the central character flaw he was trying to overcome.
    I do agree that it was a little too sexless, but that he thought he needed to pretend to not to be interested in sex was just another manifestation of him being an immature dude. I feel like you're making a bunch of the same critiques the movie was.

  • I'm not 100% into video games and I without a doubt loved this movie. The style and feel and the oomph of this movie just made everything for me. It also helped with the fantastic visual eye candy going for it. Though? I'm not into gaming culture, it was still so much fun to watch and I got into it and loved every minute of it. I would whole heartedly recommend Scott Pilgrim.

  • Eric D. C-McFadden says:

    This movie targets a specific demographic, and there's nothing wrong with that. People like it, people don't. Reviews like this are pointless. People who read columnists like this just want to have their mind made up for them.

  • Ian says:

    No, it's not for a specific demographic. You'd know this if you saw it. It's just an amazing piece of art.

  • Trace says:

    Then how come the movie consists only of indie-rock nerds?

  • Jon says:

    Just because a movie's subject is a certain demographic, that doesn't mean that people outside that demographic aren't going to enjoy it. I took my 58-year-old mother to see Scott Pilgrim, and she absolutely loved it. Couldn't stop laughing the entire time.
    By the way, didn't you say up there that there is no such thing as a wrong opinion? Stop proving yourself a hypocrite and a troll.

  • Trace says:

    "Just because a movie's subject is a certain demographic, that doesn't mean that people outside that demographic aren't going to enjoy it."
    I didn't say that. However, it would be foolish to think that there isn't a target market for this movie or any other movie.
    "By the way, didn't you say up there that there is no such thing as a wrong opinion? Stop proving yourself a hypocrite and a troll."
    That indie-rock nerds are the target market for this movie is no mere opinion. And anyways, I'm not proving myself a hypocrite. Learn to read.

  • Patrick says:

    While I agree that it should not be always necessary to read a book on which a reviewed movie is based, in this case it is relevant as much of the review calls out the direction of the film to be at "fault". Honestly, line for line and scene for scene, this is the closest film adaptation to the source material I have ever seen. Almost 100% of the lines, camera angles, "Batman cartoon bubbles", and pop culture references and jokes, are rendered perfectly from the books. Even the music is given chords and lyrics in the books that were lifted to serenade the big screen.
    While some may question the decision to direct this movie, one still has to admit the absolutely amazing attention to detail taken to preserve the original graphic novels in movie format. Hopefully more adaptations can take a page from this direction, noting that a movie doesn't have to change quite so much to adapt to another medium.

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