Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Movie a Day, Day 91: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

If Inception is a video game that becomes interactive only after it’s over, when you compare notes with other fans, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a video game you watch someone else play. That might not sound like much fun, but this movie is an upper, thanks to its inventive video game/cartoon visuals, crisp editing and constant stream of wry observational barbs.

Director Edgar Wright found his own way to animate the black-and-white graphic novels his movie is based on, adding bright colors but keeping a comic-book look. Figures are frequently silhouetted or shot in very bright or dark lighting, and cartoonish graphics often pop up on the screen, like the “Yeah Yeah Yeahs” and lightning bolts that emanate from Scott’s band when they play; the pink hearts that float up from their lips as he kisses Ramona, the girl of his dreams; and the way the snow melts in Ramona’s wake as she rollerblades down Toronto sidewalks. The dreamlike editing helps too, as characters move from one setting to another without comment or cuts, the conversation or background music simply continuing as the background changes.

That talk is mostly done in irreverent shorthand, full of tossed-off little jokes that convey the smart-verging-on-smartass skepticism and painful self-awareness of Scott and his twentysomething friends. The casual swipes taken in passing at easy but worthy targets like desperate self-promotion and self-righteous veganism and the fleeting references to things like skimming emails or getting text messages faster than the speed of light also help ground this airy fantasy firmly in the present. Read the rest on The House Next Door, Slant Magazine's blog.

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