Scott Pilgrim offers a glimpse into a subculture where being geeky is OK
- Simon Vansintjan
- 27 August 2010
If life were a video game it would go something like this
Scott Pilgrim is a 23-year-old guy from Toronto with no job. He shares a one-room-one-bed-no-couch apartment with his 'cool gay roommate' Wallace Wells. He's in a band called Sex Bob-omb with Stephen Stills - The Talent - and Kim Pine - Scott's first girlfriend. He also has a massive crush on the newest girl in town, Ramona Flowers, and to be able to date her, Scott has to defeat her seven evil exes Street Fighter-style.
Scott Pilgrim is a comic book series by Bryan Lee O'Malley revered by scores and crowds of twenteen-year-olds who grew up on Nintendo computer games (the band's name - Sex Bob-omb - derives it's name from the little walking time-bombs in the Super Mario games) and have an affinity towards underground music. Both the comic and the movie heavily feature computer-game jokes, references, and battle scenes - even though Young Neil, Sex Bob-omb's biggest fan, is the only one who seems to actively play games.
The story kicks off a little like this: while still dating 17-year-old high schooler Knives Chau one night, Scott has a dream about a rollerskating girl with bright coloured hair. The girl of his dreams turns out to be Ramona Flowers, an American who just started working for Amazon.ca after breaking up with her boyfriend in New York. To ask Ramona out, Scott orders a package from Amazon hoping she will deliver it to his front door. The 'date' goes alright and Ramona agrees to come to Sex Bob-omb's next show, which gets abruptly cut short by the appearance of the first of Ramona's evil exes.
It turns out Scott is determined to keep Ramona, and actually pretty good at this whole fighting business.
So, Scott Pilgrim could probably be described as just a story about a guy who likes this girl and will fight other guys for her. While partially true, Scott Pilgrim isn't really a hero, he's a bit dweeby, and a little bit of a dick (dating two people at the same time - probably not cool man). To win the final battle, Scott has to understand a couple of things about himself and about how the world works. Both the comic and the movie are about trying the new and ending the old - about adapting to and through changes. O'Malley uses video game ideas - levelling up, gaining lives, and saving progress - to better paint this picture, giving Scott ways to learn from, and correct, his mistakes.
Where the comic puts quite a lot of effort into back story (Scott's past with band member Kim - although it is elaborated in an animation - references pretty famous places in Toronto, Scott's past with hippest new band in Canada's lead singer Envy and his attempts at getting his life back together), the movie places a lot more emphasis on the fights between Scott and the evil exes. In a way this is understandable - the comic book is divided into six volumes, and each does a fair share of story telling, maybe too much to be fit satisfyingly into a two-hour feature film. The ending has also been changed, and although having been simplified quite a bit (the final battle is a lot more complicated in the comics), this doesn't actually harm the feel, style or morals so important and present within the comics.
The characters are all extremely well cast, Michael Cera's usual teenage awkward boy attitude is ideal as Scott Pilgrim and my first reaction to seeing Alison Pill as Kim Pine was one of 'oh crap, that is exactly how I imagined her'. The sound of the movie gives an excellent background for the visual aspects of the movie. There's great feedback between the two, once again emphasising the importance of computer games to the story line. The music performed by Sex Bob-omb and The Clash at Demonhead (Scott's ex's band) was written by Beck and Metric respectively in order to make the bands come across as being more real.
If you want a brief glimpse into a subculture where being geeky is alright, read the books or go watch the movie. As Joss Whedon said on the back of Volume 6: '"Scott Pilgrim is the best book ever. It is the Chronicle of our time. With Kung Fu, so, yeah: perfect".
Oh, and now, to close the circle, there is a video game out based on the comics.