5. Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Alternate Title: "Clash of the Hipster Stereotypes".
Cigarette intake since viewing: Zilch. Have been on nicotine patches a week and a half now.
Currently listening to: "Threshold" by Beck.
The Gist: Michael Cera's balls drop, Edgar Wright goes trans-atlantic, and something fun and original suffers from post-summer malaise.
The Experience: Faithful readers, you probably are aware by now that I'm not exactly what you would call an objective reviewer. And if you have any kind of sense, you'll know that that isn't what reviewing movies is about. There are a handful of really good writers and critics out there whose word may as well be gospel, but the truth is that all the magazine and internet reviews are only there to tell people what they want to hear or already know, and the fact of the matter is you're only really going to know whether or not you like something if you nut up and sit through it for yourself. I only have the luxury of seeing so many films I'm probably going to like anyway because of a combination of incredible luck and having lots of cool friends to mooch off periodically.
I say this to give you some understanding as to why I would spend £24 sterling on tickets (sofa seating, no less) to see Scott Pilgrim vs The World with my girlfriend on opening night, and then £5 on a matinee showing two days later; the rest will become apparent later. Anyway.
Based on Bryan Lee O'Malley's award winning comic series (end of plug), Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera playing a variation on Michael Cera) is a Canadian slacker who is the epitome of blithely, effortlessly lame. He lives in a crappy little hole in the wall of an apartment, shares a bed with a sarcastic gay guy called Wallace (Kieran Culkin), is a terrible bass player for a mediocre garage band and his "girlfriend" is 17 year old Chinese-Canadian girl Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). Then one day he encounters an effortlessly mysterious ninja delivery girl called Ramona (Mary Elisabeth Winstead), ends up falling head over heels for her, and ultimately has to defeat her seven evil exes in order to win her heart.
As with Inception, it's hard to say more about the film without ruining it; not because of any twists, but because, like Edgar Wright's previous movies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (and to certain extent his TV breakout Spaced), this is a film that you simply aren't going to know whether you like or not unless you man up and see it for yourself like everyone else. The cast all work brilliantly well, the stand-outs being Culkin's snarky roommate, newcomer Wong and evil exes Chris Evans, Brandon Routh and Jason Schwartzman. The film has all the pop culture elements of Wright's previous work (without feeling like he's ticking boxes), the music contributed by Beck and Nigel Godrich is exceptional, and the retro graphics and video game-style duels between Cera and the parade of over-the-top villains are each unique and imaginative.
So, typically of hip, clever movies that come out around this time of year, it's going to be seen by virtually no-one, because you, faithful readers, are too busy going to The Expendables or Step Up 3D or whatever pablum is getting served up at your local multiplex. Sure, some of you will go see it because Michael Cera is in it, or because you remember liking Shaun or Hot Fuzz, and maybe it'll get its second wind on DVD, but American print journalists (i.e. the people who were never going to go see it anyway) have already declared it a "major financial disappointment".
This, ultimately, is exactly why I paid over the four times the going rate to see this film on its opening night in a packed screening at the Electric. Why I saw it again in a half-full, mildly bemused matinee audience two days later is because so many people where laughing the first time. Not talking. Not heckling. Not texting. Laughing. Remember when comedies where actually funny because they were well written and not because they involved bodily functions? This is not a niche movie that only 10% of the population are going to like or get, and the accusations of it being a "hipster" film are ridiculous. There really is no excuse for you to not see this movie at the cinema with your girlfriend or boyfriend or a roommate or a bunch of people from work you don't really know.
Even the slight mawkishness of Michael Cera and a self-consciously ludicrous Bollywood sequence can't derail what by rights should be the sleeper hit of the summer. 29 quid is a small price to pay for seeing something witty and out of the box succeed, and if more people did likewise the movie industry would be very different.
I drank the Kool-Aid, and I went back for seconds.