Best Stuff Day 3: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
I am pretty much the exact target market for this movie. Everything about Scott Pilgrim is tailored for a Canadian music nerd/video game geek with an awareness of comics and a love for over-the-top ridiculousness. It’s admittedly a niche, which might be why Pilgrim kinda-sorta flopped when it came out, but for a certain kind of audience, the movie is damn near perfect.
Although the pop culture references and video-game physics are a big part of Pilgrim’s appeal, the film has a lot more to offer. The central conflict — in which the titular awkward bass player (Michael Cera) does battle with his new special lady’s seven evil exes — provides plenty of whiz-bang moments and laugh-out-loud set-ups, but it’s also an apt metaphor for the emotional and historical baggage that gets in the way of any new relationship. And director Edgar Wright, the man behind the equally fantastic Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, manages to show just the right amount of heart in a film world where punching people hard enough can turn them into coins, and where “vegan police” have psychic powers and superhuman smugness. It had every possibility of being overly cutesy, precious, pretentious or downright obnoxious, but Wright strikes just the right chord.
Pilgrim had a budget of $60 million, and as they say, you can see every penny of it on the screen, but it only managed to pull in about half that in its theatrical run. Speaking as the film’s target market, that sucks. When a well-cast, well-directed, polished, funny, visually experimental etc etc movie like this can’t come halfway to recouping itself at the box office, producers aren’t going to take the risk of making more of them. But, even if the studios completely give up on me and my ilk as an audience, you can’t say they didn’t try.