Thursday, August 19, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Appreciation [Indeterminate Amount of Time]

Even in context this scene made no damn sense

Scott Pilgrim is a comic book series created by Canadian artist Bryan Lee O’Malley in 2004 that ran until 2010 with a total of six volumes: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness, Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together, Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe, and Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour. The comic is basically a cross between a video game, a rainbow, and all the happiness in the world. Finding a comic like this is the same kind of awesome as meeting a really hot girl who turns out to be a huge dork; you weren’t expecting it but damn if you don’t became obsessed with the whole thing (Of course the comic won’t make out with you…unless you’ve pre-ordered the special “Scott Pilgrim: Make-Out Edition” due out in 2011). Understand that after reading the first volume I was extremely torn bout this series. I hated most of volume one but liked the very end, but not enough to rush out and buy the next one. Plus a lot of people (Who may have been the most pretentious people reading comics) kept saying how great the series so I instantly loathed it. Eventually I picked up volume two, which was much better, and then 3 &4, which were so wonderful that I actually stopped hating the world since our society couldn’t possibly be so awful if it produced works like this (Then I remembered that Scott Pilgrim is a Canadian work and not really my society so the hate soon began flowing again).

Anyway with the movie hitting theaters (And bombing, by the way) I felt the need to write a little about the series. I’ll be posting reviews of both the flick and the comic, but first I thought I’d talk a little about the series. The story is pretty well known: Scott meets the girl of his dreams, it turns out she has Seven Evil Ex-Boyfriends, he must defeat them to date her. It’s also extremely nerdy, even by comic standards (Indie comics like this don’t necessarily fall under the same “Dork” banner that Marvel/DC superhero comics usually do…those cocky bastards). The world Scott lives in is extremely video game influenced from a score system, to life bars, to save points and 1-Ups hanging out periodically…and no one really thinks of it as being terribly strange. Aside from that there are a ton of references and winks to all sorts of dorky things, my favorite probably being Scott’s coat featuring the X-Men logo. As I’m a firm believer that the best way to gauge a series to look at its cast of characters so let’s check out a few of my favorites/important ones.

Scott Pilgrim, Age: 23

Pictured: Ranma Saotome, 2004 Model

Scott is a big immature loser with no job, no money, and living almost completely completely at the charity of his roommate Wallace. Scott subscribes to the Son Goku school of protagonists in that he’s around as smart as a ton of bricks, but hits about as hard. Yes he’s a great fighter but he’s dumb. Duuuumb. Like “Dude, where do I live again?” dumb. Like “Oh man, I forgot to breathe again” dumb. Frankly there’s nothing all that redeeming about this guy in the first volume, which was the primary reason I didn’t enjoy the book so much. He’s dating a girl much too young for him, not seemingly that interested in her feelings, and basically cheats on her his first opportunity all the while contributing nothing to society because he’s so damn childish. He does get better over time, and his stupidity influenced innocence can be charming (“What’s the web address for” he asks) And, truth be told, his incompetence is the source of most of the book’s humor (My favorite bit involves him attacking literally every guy he sees with glasses because they sort of resemble be one of Ramona’s ex-boyfriends). His relationship with the mysterious Ramona Flowers drives the plot. His favorite food is garlic bread or free sushi that Wallace pays for. He is the bass player for the local Toronto band Sex Bob-omb (Hell yes) but is apparently pretty mediocre in this role.

Michael Cera plays him in the movie, but I’ll leave my thoughts on that potential train wreck for another day.

Ramona Flowers, Age: ???

So long as you hate intimacy she's the perfect girlfriend

The female lead of the series Ramona is mysterious roller skating American delivery girl who Scott is smitten with. Why? Because he saw her in a dream, I guess. And she’s hot apparently. I don’t really get what the big deal about this girl is. She’s mean, has a trail of broken hearted boyfriends, treats Scott kind of badly, and sort of plays at this aloof “I may or may not give a shit about you” game that annoys me. So between her and Scott I really wasn’t sure I wanted to read this series. Luckily she eases up after a while as we get to know her but I never get into her at all. If I was dating a girl like that and some dude dressed like a hipster pirate attacked me over it I’d just shrug and say “Take her dude, this chick is too high maintenance for me”.

In the film she’s played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead and is, if anything, even more of an aloof bitch. Also Winstead looks horrible with that hair that I assume was actually series of wigs. Bleh.

Wallace Wells, Age 25

A cool gay roommate who's also gay
(He's gay)

My favorite character in the series. O’Malley loves to point out constantly that Wallace is gay. Practically every page Wallace shows up in either a caption appears reminding us he’s gay, a character blurts out how gay he is, or he talks about how little interest he has in romantic talk unless it’s about a boy. I get it, guy, he’s gay. I figured it out the seventeenth times it came up. Anyway he’s Scott’s significantly more intelligent and responsible roommate who acts as a sort of point man in the comic. He gives Scott advice throughout, gives him intel on Ramona’s exes, and provides him with food and shelter. He’s like his gay dad except he’s only two years older than him. In just about every way Wallace is the opposite of Scott, which may be why I like him so much. Also the fact that he has the best lines probably has something to do with it as well.

Wallace’s role in the movie is reduced, but not too much. He’s more of a sarcastic roommate archetype than a mentor. He’s played by...Macaulay Culkin’s little brother?


Knives Chau, Age: 17

Pictured: The real reason jailbait is frowned upon

If you’ve only heard a little bit about this series you’ve probably heard something about the main character “dating a high schooler.” Knives is that high schooler. This Chinese-Canadian girl starts the series cute as a button, shy and in a constant state of learning. So when she’s suddenly dumped by Scott you instantly feel horrible for her and angry at the guy who’s supposed to be our hero. O’Malley solves the problem with readers possibly turning on Scott by having Knives, in her depression over the break-up, become a psycho stalker hell bent on winning her boyfriend back. Aaaannnd she’s almost ruined for me. Seriously, she was such a likable character but she makes such a 180 that it’s painful to watch. She evens out eventually but the journey is still pretty depressing for me.

Knives is somehow even more depressing to watch in the film. She’s played by Ellen Wong, who I don’t know much about but is apparently older than the guy playing Scott Pilgrim. Really, Casting Director?

Kim Pine, Age: 23

I see hate in you eyes, Kim Pine. That's good


The drummer of Sex Bob-omb, she’s known for her misanthropic attitude, her freckles and her catchphrase of “WE ARE SEX BOB-OMB! ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR!” right before the band starts playing a gig. Along with Wallace Kim is my favorite character in the book as she gets a lot of good lines and is generally fun to read. She plays an important role in the book and is involved a secondary plot responsible for some of Scott’s character development. She’s rough around the edges but she has a heart of gold…like me.

The biggest victim of the film is easily Kim who, due to much of the B-plots being jettisoned, loses almost all of her subplot and is demoted to supporting character rather than main character. She’s played by Alison Pill and looks like a “Ginger from Hell”.

Stephen Stills, Age: 22

In retrospect he doesn't do much

Stephen Stills, “The talent” in the words of Scott, is the guitarist, singer and presumably songwriter of Sex Bob-omb. Easily the most chilled of the main cast he spends most of time sitting back looking upon the events that unfold with indifference…unless, of course, it affects the band. Then he gets a little neurotic. Stephen Stills doesn’t do that much to further the plot, as the band isn’t super important to the way the story unfolds. In the film he’s a lot more whinny. He is played by Mark Webber who I assume must be at fault.

Young Neil, Age 20

Stephen Stills’ roommate and Sex Bob-omb’s #1 fan (Out of two fans). He’s not the same type of buffoon that Scott is but he’s still pretty dopey and prone to emotional outburst. Strangely his character goes through many changes over the book but we never actually see the causes. It’s almost as if, while Scott is busy with the plot we follow, Young Neil is having his own adventures somewhere and we only catch glimpses of him when things are cooled down. If O’Malley were to make a spin-off it should totally star this guy so he can explain what the hell was going on.

"Young Neil vs. The World"


He does nothing of any importantance in the book but he’s promoted in the movie and plays a much bigger role. He’s even dumber, and funnier, in this version. He’s played by Johnny Simmons who, like with Macaulay Culkin’s Little Brother, is pretty dang sweet.

Envy Adams, Age: 24

She's like the Joker if the Joker was a hot pop star

Envy Adams is the frontwoman of The Clash at Demonhead, a national act on the verge of fame and fortune who is made reference to several times before she appears. However she is also the Scott’s ex-girlfriend who broke his heart so badly that only recently has he started getting over it (By trying to date Ramona). Despite not being a member of the League of Ramona’s Evil Ex-Boyfriends she is a major antagonist. She’s so delicious catty, cruel, manipulative and heartless but with a specific and well told back-story that it makes her significantly more interesting than every other villain in the series, including the main antagonist. I won’t get into too many details but Envy is one of the main reasons I decided to fully embrace this book. She is a perfect villainous foil to Scott Pilgrim.

Sadly, much like with Kim, most of her contribution to the story was cut in the transition from comic-to-film as we get a watered down streamlined version that is really a shell of the character I saw in the book. To make matters worse Brie Larson plays her and she’s just not very good. Also she’s blonde. I’m not sure why she’s blonde in this movie.

Long story short I love the cast of this book. Depressingly I still have more to say about this series so sometime in the near future expect a full review of both the movie and comic.

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