I had some low expectations walking into the theatre, and not because there were only myself and about 10 other people in there and my free popcorn was not hot… still bitter about that. After two hours, I was taken aback by how good the movie is and how the marketing totally missed its sell point… NERDS LIKE ME!
The movie is about an early 20s Canadian bassist named Scott Pilgrim (really now?) who is in a band called the Sex Bob-ombs (Mario ref… I’ll drop these references in now and explain later. Keep reading). He casually dates Knives Chau, who is damn near addicted to him, until he meets Ramona Flowers, who is not into Scott at all and is rather cold, except when she skates, she melts the ice.
Their romance eventually blossoms and could become something more until Scott has several issues: his reluctance to break up with Knives and then seven evil exes from Ramona’s past come to destroy him, each one with a different superpower. Ramona explains nonchalantly that Scott must fight and defeat all seven if their relationship will ever survive.
Scott reluctantly agrees to fight them as the exes find him in a series of fights (Street Fighter ref.) in which he earns points, racks up combos (SF ref.) and the defeated turn into coins (Mario ref.). Meanwhile, he is trying to get his band signed to a major label, living around the random hookups of his very wise and often mention “cool gay roommate,” and ducking Knives.
Well. The commercials missed the mark completely. If they told me the movie was almost a tribute and great integration of video game antics with real life, I would have seen it the day it released. Instead the trailers were about a guy who fights seven exes. Who does that? Like really… WHO DOES THAT STUFF?
I loved that the movie had references to Super Mario Bros, the Legend of Zelda, Street Fighter, Tony Hawk/skateboarding, and just generic video game sound cues and attributes from the late 1980s to mid 1990s, and overall like extra lives, power-ups, life bars, little sound cues, coin rewards and point counters.
It’s well executed and easily could have come off as hokey, as many video-game based films are in fact hokey by taking for granted that gamers are serious about their stuff. The movie doesn’t take us for granted and it shows. The fight scenes are well done to illustrate this point going all out in disregard of physics and general plausibility with seamless effects and great original feel to make it look like a really cool video game. There’s more to the movie that the previews got wrong.
I liked that the story addressed its own absurdity. I can’t think of a guy who would fight seven exes for a girl. The girl would wind up single before the first fight went down. However, within the context of the video game world, it makes sense. In “Super Mario Bros.” you fight a legion of turtles and mutant mushrooms to save the princess. Well Scott and Ramona get into that issue and also there are quick back stories for all of the exes that comes into play during their respective fight scenes. There is also a theme of responsibility that the main characters have to take on throughout the story and I really enjoyed that too. I think if the story was self-addressed and without the videogame context, the movie would have failed for me. But it passes with flying colors and explosions…and lots and lots of coins.
Did I mention it’s well-acted too? Everyone, from the leads to the support cast and one-liners, plays the part whether its low-key Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead or over the top Chris Evans, or overexcited Ellen Wong… Everyone’s roles fits them and they’re well played in a very animated world. There isn’t much to take away from the movie except that its middle section kind of drags, which is surprising. The editing is very quick and top notch, but I guess things don’t slow down, so you get worn down and it feels like it drags.Check out the movie for a good entertaining time for the casual observer.
The diehard video game fanatics MUST go see it.
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