As I sit down to write these words, I just got home from an advance screening of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Given that Scott Pilgrim is a) a movie, b) based on a comic I love by Bryan Lee O’Malley, and is c) steeped in rock ‘n’ roll, I expect you can probably guess it’s a flick that I’ve really been looking forward to. OK, to be completely honest, “looking forward to” is kind of an understatement. I had really high hopes for the movie, and I was rooting for it to capture the spirit, manic energy, tone and, perhaps most crucially, the heart of the graphic novels. I’ll admit that I had some concerns, especially concerning Michael Cera’s ability to believably inhabit the role of Scott Pilgrim as portrayed on the page.
If you share those concerns, or any others regarding the adaptation from the comics page to the screen, I’m here to tell you that you may hereby breathe easily and relieve yourself of any and all fears. Simply put, director Edgar Wright’s onscreen realization of Scott Pilgrim is a triumph, and one that’s not content to merely succeed on every imaginable level, but which scores bonus points with the greatest of ease. Even when the movie deviates from the graphic novels (which, yes, it does at times, just as any truly successful adaptation of a work from one medium to another must, so settle down, Beavis), it preserves the integrity of the source material. (And if you’ll permit me a brief aside, I feel compelled to note that Scott Pilgrim shares this trait of deviating from while at the same time preserving the integrity of the source material with Kick-Ass, my other favorite comics-based movie of the year so far.)
In a nutshell, if you’re a fan of the graphic novels, pretty much everything you loved about the books is present in the movie. In addition to the aforementioned spirit, manic energy, tone, and heart, add to the list: the breathtaking pacing; the charmingly visible sound effects; the attention to detail in realizing the visual flair and design sense of the source material; and, yes, those crucially important video game elements that are seamlessly embedded throughout. It’s all there, my friends, and more. If, on the other hand, you’re unfamiliar with the graphic novels, fear not, for if you’ve ever been young and crushing on someone, you’re perfectly equipped with the necessary tools to adore this movie.
Scott Pilgrim doesn’t strike so much as a single bum note, a phrase which is especially apt given the importance of the believability of the original music in a movie whose title character is the bassist in Sex Bob-Omb, a band whose performance in a Battle of the Bands is integral to the plot. Credit for the songs of Sex Bob-Omb goes to Beck, who did a remarkable job of realizing the sound of a band that had previously only existed on the pages of a comic book (and in the mind’s-ear of its readers). If you’re interested in learning more about the original music of the film, I highly recommend checking out an excellent piece by Todd Martens in Pop & Hiss, the L.A. Times Music Blog.
If you’re a gambler looking to place your bets on the success of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, I’d advise you to bet the farm on Scott. Here’s how I know beyond any doubt that this movie is going to be a hit: when I exited the advance screening, some two-and-a-half hours before the opening “day” midnight screening was scheduled to begin, there was a group of teens already camped out at the front of the line … and every one of them was costumed as a different character from the graphic novel / movie.
Joss Whedon blurbed the just-released final book of the six-volume graphic novel series thusly: “Scott Pilgrim is the best book ever. It is the chronicle of our time. With Kung Fu, so, yeah: perfect.” Substitute “movie” for “book” in that blurb, and Joss could just as easily have been fawning over the movie as, intentionally hyperbolic though they may be, his words are perfectly in tune with the material, striking nary a bum note.
So, yeah: perfect.