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Monday, November 7, 2011

Ketchup: COUPLES, Scott Pilgrim + Knives Chau (and why I didn't like the movie)

I'm gonna rant a little bit here.  I'll try to avoid being spoiler-y about he books but I'm going in assuming peeps have seen the movie.

Scott Pilgrim was my favorite comic for a long time.  I was on board from the beginning, and I say that not to brag that I was there first, but to make the point that I was/am a SUPER FAN.  When I heard the movie was not only going forward but was being directed by Edgar Wright, I thought it was positioned to be the bestest comic book movie ever, SRSLY.  I wasn't expecting it to be note for note the same because it's stupid to expect every nuance from the 1200 page story to fit into 2 hours, but I figured it'd get the spirit of the story at least.  I'm definitely PRO comic book movie (even the not so great ones) because its a great way to get comic creators more paid and who among us isn't for that?

I thought SCOTT PILGRIM vs THE WORLD was bad though, and NOT because "it was different from the book!"  It really wasn't THAT different, at least superficially.  It hit the big story beats, sure.  It did a fine job of keeping a lot of the funny jokes and silly hipster spirit but at its core it completely whiffed on the point of the story: Scott Pilgrim is a douchebag in sore need of some growing up.

My biggest problem is how much the movie let Scott off the hook for his dick behavior.  Sure the characters roll their eyes at Scott a lot (ditto the book), but as the books progressed forward and you learned more about Scott's romantic history (with Kim, Envy, and Lisa, whose roles were reduced to non-existent in the movie) and how he wasn't just an endearing but absentminded doofus, he was actually kind of horrible.  The books beautifully show everything bottoming out in slow motion, because of his stubborn refusal to acknowledge that he's being self centered even though he does genuinely care about those around him.  Whether he ends up with Ramona or ANYONE not was not the point.  The fighting the evil exes, that ALSO was not the point.

The movie kind of chucks all that out the window.  Michael Cera plays Michael Cera, lovable awkward doofus, and ends with the message that TRUE LOVE CONQUERS ALL blaring with bright colors and indie rock.  It ends up being a personal victory without any of the interesting personal struggle.

The reason I picked Scott and Knives is because it's the difference in the book and the movie in a nutshell.  Scott cheats on Knives and Ramona with each other.  Knives in the book is shown to be immature (for sure), but she's also 17 and struggling with a lot of sadness/longing/frustration with this older jerk who played her emotionally and then unceremoniously dumped her when she stopped being the most interesting thing to him this very minute.  In the movie she's just this cute/annoying groupie who ends up being as feasible a love interest as Ramona in the end.


  1. You know I agree with you completely. You were the one who turned me on to Scott Pilgrim. In fact I had your first few books for....well years. (sorry about that.) But I am able to disconnect the books from the movies and just enjoy the movie as eye candy. Was it as fulfilling of a character piece as the books? No. But I can live with that. I give those books a ten out of ten and the movie a seven out of ten.
    There are several other ways that Scott is a total douche in the books, not just to girls, but even to his platonic friends. Look at his relationship with Wallace. He's a total leach. He just takes takes takes. He doesn't care about the other memebers of his band or even really the band itself. He seems to play music becuase it defines him as being "cool." Scott is a douche. And you're right, that is missing from the movie. I know its hard to disconnect the two, but the movie was fun. And if you just take it at face value it wasn't bad. I think the saddest thing that was lost on viewers of the movie was subtlelty. No one told me anything about the books. You and Adam just gave them to me and said "read this." I thought it was like a jeffery Brown book or any other mopey love indie book. Then it started to get a little weird and out of no where the book does a 180 and its this strange video game world with epic battles and people dying and coins etc. Because of the way Hollywood and film marketting works that all had to be in the trailer. So no one got to experience that surprise with the movie. That to me was a giant loss.

  2. I've never read the books so I can't really comment on the comparison. But it's a good sketch though, it's got a lot of personality to it.

  3. Totally with you on the Cera-as-Cera thing. I get why they cast him: you need somebody ADORABLE to play Scott because being adorable is how Scott gets away with everything. But Michael Cera does his shy and sensitive thing, whereas Scott in the books is this loud, oblivious jackass. Movie-Scott is no confidence, book-Scott is ALL confidence. And indeed, I do prefer the book-Scott, because while you wouldn't want to be his friend in real life, from the safe remove of fiction, he's sort of fun to "hang around" with.