Evil Xs

Not much to add to the gleeful hubbub surrounding Edgar Wright’s adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD. A rare film which takes faithfulness to its source as a call to have fun rather than stifle invention, it’s also one of the few movies that really works for me in terms of juggling sort-of-real characters with personalities and issues, and awesome fight scenes where people get exploded. There’s no sense of a mismatch at all, you don’t worry about the death side of things, you just accept that the mild mayhem is some kind of metaphor, and nobody really gets hurt within the world of this film.

Taking his cue from the graphic novel/s, Wright plays games, literally, with cinema, cheerfully eating up anime and comic book and video game techniques. It makes me curious to see what he’d do with 3D, since his showcasing of technique for the sheer hell of it makes self-consciousness a virtue. Also, it’s very funny.

Wright has always had a lovely sense of comic timing, and his hyperkinetic style actually works hand-in-hand with that. The sharp cut following Michael Cera’s reaction to the line “Bread makes you fat,” — a single, horrified, “What?” — is made retroactively funnier by the abruption of the edit following fast on the heels of the line. In a split second, your brain is reprogrammed to upgrade the line from amusing to hilarious.

Cera is of course delightful, but so is everyone. My new conversational opener for after a film viewing with a friend is “Who was your favourite?” and it works very well with this movie [Maybe wouldn’t be so helpful with something like SECRET HONOR] I asked Fiona, “Who was your favourite?” “What?” “Who was your favourite?” “Oh. Girl drummer.” An instinctive reaction to a good bob. And then, “And gay guy.” My favourite is Ellen Wong as Knives Chao, because everything she does is cute and funny. But it’s a tough call, because there’s a whole trench-full of cute funniness in the flick.

As one who’s gone on the record with a deep, almost sexual admiration for Cera, I felt uncertain about his darker hair coloring here, and Wright does a lot of profile and three-quarter views of his star, which makes him less beautiful, less a Starman and more a 21st Century Sterling Holloway. But that ain’t bad.

Is Scott sitting on a swing in the snow a reference to Kurosawa’s IKIRU? It seems like it might be. Or it might be a reference to Bruce MacDonald’s THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS, which likewise has teenage issues, split screen and Canada as sub-topics. Two references that seem fairly certain are the use of the hypnosis sting from Mike Hodges’ FLASH GORDON, and the appearance by the Monster from the Id from FORBIDDEN PLANET. What’s he been doing with himself in the last fifty years, anyhow?

He’s certainly kept in trim.

11 Responses to “Evil Xs”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by dcairns and dcairns, edgarwright. edgarwright said: @dcairns The last line of your piece really made me laugh https://dcairns.wordpress.com/2010/08/21/evil-xs/ thank you. […]

  2. As I have said Cera is the Mublecore Jean-Pierre Leaud.
    Guaging his effect is rather complicated. The whole point of Cera is his passivity. He doesn’t look or act like a movie star but rather someone you knew in high school with that you found “pleasant” but wasn’t a particular friend in any way. He recedes from the very moment he comes into view. Therefore Wright’s big joke is putting so docile figure in the center of furious visual and dramatic acion. Works well in that there’s no reason to “beleive” in the “battles” with the “Seven Evil Exes” on any level other than the metaphoric.

    I especially liked the notion that Vegans have superpowers that can be destroyed by slipping them a drink with half and half in it.

  3. And far be it from me to resist the enchant ment of —

  4. I also enjoyed the foul libel that vegans eat chicken when they think no one’s looking.

    And nice to see Brandon Routh getting work. I actually liked him in Superman Returns (he had some awesome boots to fill) and wished he had a better movie to be superhuman in. Now he has!

  5. And speaking of that Bryan Sinder misfire, and awesome boots, Edgar — if you’re reading this (and I suspect you are) it’s high time you made a movie with Parker Posey.

  6. I liked PP and Kevin Spacey in that film, it was just a shame the repeated the real estate plot from the first Supes, and ended with him doing the exact thing that he’s never been able to convincingly do onscreen: picking up something much much bigger than himself. Because we all know it wouldn’t work, even if he was strong enough, so even if the FX men can show it, we won’t believe it.

    Scott Pilgrim does an amazing job suspending disbelief and then kicking it out of the park.

  7. Edgar Wright is a natural entertainer. He can find seventeen different ways to make walking from one side of the room to the other funny.

    After its opening weekend (i.e. last weekend), the movie blogger scene was quick to decide it had failed because it opened in fifth place and it wasn’t on course to recoup its $60 million budget. And maybe it still won’t, at least in theaters, but I saw it last night in a packed house, the audience loving every minute of it. People *really love* this film, and that’s how classics are made.

    The biggest laugh for me, when Clifton Collins Jr. and Thomas Jane high-five on their exit, shouting “YEEEAAH!!”

    And at the first version of the Gideon battle, Comeau says something like, “Their first album is a LOT better than their first album.”

  8. I would think in the long term this is a money-spinner. Wright’s DVD extras are among the best anywhere, so it’ll sell like mad on DVD/BluRay.

    Yes, I loved the hi-5 also, and all the throwaway stuff, all so expertly planted that practically nothing is missed. Although I want to see it again to see what else I can catch.

  9. I think you’re right. Everybody’s talking about it all over the net. Nobody has anything to say about The Expandex or Eat Pray Date Julia Roberts

  10. Also re the Vegan Police, their lasers are GREEN.

  11. I saw the trailer for that Eat Shit Pray and it was the WORST THING EVER. Except for the trailer for Cairo Time which was a thousand times worse.

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