You know, people walk up to me on the street and ask: Tributary, why do you love the sappy, the immature, the stories of teenage wonderment? Is it because you missed out on them and are somehow trying to experience everything vicariously?
Yes, it probably is.
The epitome of my journey of missed adventures is Scott Pilgrim vs The World. Directed by Edgar Wright, *insert manly heart emoticons here*, it’s the only comic book adaptation I’ve ever been smitten with. In short, it tells of how Scott has to defeat seven evil exes of his to-be girlfriend in order to win her for himself. While not in the synopsis, but just as relevant, the movie also has Scott surpass his own insecurities and fears in a battle with himself – really, the ultimate battle.
If ever one needed to use this word, one would describe SPvtW with it: quirky. Add to that the dose of self-consciousness and self-irony the movie is imbued with and you’ve got some strong points of reference. Even so, what sets Scott Pilgrim apart is its ability to express all this through both dialogue and visuals, with a spot-on soundtrack to patch anything that requires patching. A lot of that has to do with Wright’s zippy editing and its use to create a very particular kind of visual/narrative humour – because stories about the love struggle are a dime a dozen. Equally, though, it’s important to me that Scott Pilgrim feels so real, because he’s not an all around nice guy just desperately waiting for the (literal) girl of his dreams.
When things come together, they come together all around and the cast assembled for SPvtW is perhaps surprisingly high-calibre. The standout is Kieran Culkin, playing Scott’s gay roommate Wallace, who brings a lot of cynicism to Scott’s aloofness. One of my favourite lines comes about when Wallace ‘comforts’ Scott over the perspective of coming in second best:
And one could argue that is objectively true, even if all the exes are caricatures of what our own psyche makes us think those who came before us must have been like. There’s a lot of interplay between the literal and the figurative, which really defines what dating and relationships come down to. Ultimately, there’s also a question of fit and choice between people – to which extent you can and have to consider lovers as homogeneous beings, rather than composites. The conclusion to the movie lends itself to different outcomes, which were actually filmed and included as alternate endings. It’s just that our investment throughout goes into one character, making it a simple choice in the end.
Wright is fantastic in that his style is easily identifiable, yet not overbearing. Whether you spend time with Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), The Worlds’ End (2013) (a.k.a. The Cornetto Trilogy), with Scott Pilgrim or with the ever-delightful series that sort of started it all, Spaced (1999), you’ll feel his presence. That in itself is not so surprising, but the consistent freshness of everything he’s done so far truly impresses me. Just watch them all!
I love Scott because he’s so contrary and silly and that’s what I hope to grow up to be some day.