Scott Pilgrim set to become cult classic

While the early previews for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World looked absurd, it was hard to decide whether it would be absurdly bad or absurdly brilliant. After a first viewing, it certainly lands squarely in the land of absurdly brilliant... when reviewed by two Carnegie Mellon computer science geeks.

The first sight: a pixelated Universal Studios Earth. The first sound: the studio’s theme recomposed into the only eight bits it ever needed. It is this digitally reduced beginning that sets the stage for a movie that is willing to take leaps where leaps are not necessary, to go beyond what is expected, and to push just a little further into a realm that deviates from popular culture into that of the video game, the comic book, and the awkward post-teenage lifestyle. Scott Pilgrim’s influences range from Mortal Kombat to The Legend of Zelda to School of Rock.

The central plot of Scott Pilgrim revolves around our hero Scott’s efforts to start and maintain a relationship with the neon-haired New Yorker Ramona Flowers. In order to do so, he must defeat her seven “evil exes” and in that process come to terms with his own past. Deep. But again, while not exactly an unexplored premise, the plot is not what makes Scott Pilgrim one of the most entertaining movies of the year. The overlay of Scott’s “real” world with video game scenarios, comic book action, and rocky-punk garage band music is unique. When he defeats an evil ex, he gets a coin payout as if he had hit an arcade jackpot. There was the occasional somewhat awkward moment, like when a “1UP” sprite drops from the ceiling while Scott tells his band that he is going to “get a life.” However, most of the surreal additions to the film felt genuinely inspired and kept the audience laughing.

In the end, the people who will get the most out of Scott Pilgrim are those who can empathize with one of the three main roles: Scott, the awkward, lost 20-something with no self-esteem; Ramona, the cynic who is trying to run away from her past; and Knives Chau, Scott’s innocent and obsessive high school (ex-)girlfriend. Few of the supporting characters are developed beyond a name and a stereotype, though Kieran Culkin does an excellent job as Wallace Wells, Scott’s gay roommate.

Even after a somewhat expected disappointing debut at the box office, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World seems destined to become the kind of film that Carnegie Mellon types everywhere will transform into the cult classic it deserves to be. The film’s tagline, “an epic of epic epicness,” is one that will be repeated in chants through the halls of Gates this fall. So, if for some reason you haven’t yet, go and witness the epicness that is the best video game movie yet... and stuff.