Friday, August 13, 2010

My-My-My Ramona!

My-My-My Ramona!

You know what today is? IT'S THE RELEASE OF SCOTT PILGRIM!! Now, I've seen it way more than enough times now.. So it's nice to finally talk about it.. oh wait, I've already talked a lot about it, right?

So the real question is what do the critics have to say about it?
A relentless barrage of long-form, CGI-enhanced PlayStation battle sequences… all Cera kicking butts and performing impossible stunts with Super Mario Brothers sound effects!
I hope this person is one of those parents that pronounces it "MARE-EEEEE-O"
There's no room for any real growth, just literalized level-ups that bring our hero incrementally closer to his hipster Princess Toadstool!

First of all, I'm not a video gamer, I have discovered more appealing ways to not have a life!
That's a lot of fighting words mixed in there.
A relentless barrage of long-form, CGI-enhanced PlayStation battle sequences… all Cera kicking butts and performing impossible stunts with Super Mario Brothers sound effects!
I mean, it's not like their generation had a film that voiced their interest or anything...
Clearly directed at an audience with generational ADD!

Singularly fixated on video games and shallow visions of women as one-dimensional objects to be either obtained or discarded!
The inner feminist in me disagrees with that completely, but then I realize that later on in this article I'm going to talk a lot about Ramona's hair.. and that, I guess, places the women of this film into the objectification table. I dunno.

Still, those critics were pretty harsh on the movie. To go counter to all that, let's take a look at how NPR did a really good story as to how the critics are getting this all wrong.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World may be one of the most heavily previewed movies in years. Promo screenings, preview screenings, Comic-Con ... it feels at times like everyone who really cares about it has seen it by now — and the reviews have been rolling in for quite some time.

Full disclosure: I think it's great.

I also think it's so heavily stylized that it's bound not to be everyone's favorite film. It's not aiming to be liked by all; it's aiming to be adored by many. If director Edgar Wright weren't okay with the film's being polarizing, he'd have backed off from some of its delightful little quirks.

But I have to say to those reviewing it: what's completely unnecessary is being hostile and condescending about the target audience — and I can say that, because I'm emphatically not part of it.

After referring to the first part of the movie as a "dork-pandering assault," The Boston Phoenix reviewer goes on to say that Michael Cera's performance is "irritating" in part because of "the non-stop Pavlovian laugh track provided by the audience at the screening I attended." (As far as I know, that's a first: "You made the audience laugh, you irritating actor in a comedy, and that's what's wrong with you.")

Let's start with "no possible point of entry to anybody over the age of 30." The very first image in this film — the literally very first thing you see with your eyes and hear with your ears — is the Universal logo, rendered as it would look and sound at around the time I was playing Pitfall! on my extremely sophisticated Atari system in 1983. This is literally the "point of entry" for the entire film, and on average, it's going to mean more to people over 30 than under.

There's no reason to be angry at the people you imagine a movie will make happy just because you didn't like the movie.

Listen: I hated Dinner For Schmucks. I hated it like it kicked my dog and sent me an invoice. But other people in the theater laughed, and every time I have told anyone how much I hated it, I have said, "But please note: other people in the theater were laughing, so maybe it's me."

I don't know who those laughers are. I don't know how they are different from me in age, gender, recreational activity preferences, or general opinions on the matter of whether Steve Carell should wear prosthetic teeth. I don't know. They laughed; I didn't. And if I'd found myself writing, "Carell's performance is irritating partly because of the know-nothing goobers who were laughing the whole time," I hope I would have paused before hitting "publish" and thought, "Perhaps this is not the most helpful thing I could say about this movie."

Hating Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is perfectly fine. It's got a style; you sort of embrace it and dig it or you don't. But when there's too much effort given to tut-tutting the people you imagine to be enjoying it, or declaring and promising that only narrow categories of losers and non-life-havers and other stupid annoying hipsters could possibly be having a good time when you're not, it sounds pinched and ungenerous. And, not to put too fine a point on it, a little bit jealous and fearful of obsolescence.

Here's what I'm saying: I'm a woman, I'm in my late thirties, I can't handle first-person shooters, I'm afraid of Comic-Con, and I really, really liked Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

I hope I'm not, you know, blowing your mind.

So yeah, it's a bit silly to read one review that stated that this was Twilight for boys. What? Can I say go team Kim? Besides that, the ladies in Scott Pilgrim are pretty awesome. You couldn't fault a guy for falling for them. They're not sexually-repressed stalkers either like those vampires up in Seattle.

When I first saw this movie at a test screening some months back I couldn't wait to see it again. Thankfully they did at least four other test screenings that I recall. I thought that the editing, while indeed on the quick cut, and the special effects all over the place where amazing for what story they were trying to tell.

It was an extremely dense movie with a very simple and enjoyable story. I can't say I had more fun in a theater this year than with this movie. Remember, I've seen it multiple times already. While I'm sure there's going to be a lot of people who won't like it, I would still recommend it to anyone.

While I do think they sort of breezed through the whole reasons why they like each other, I think it sort of had to happen considering they were squeezing 6 books, 6.5 battles and a love triangle story into a two hour time span. For the job that they pulled, they did an amazing thing.

Besides that, where the book covers a lot of time during their relationship, I think the movie does an excellent job at showing them discovering each other and themselves in that "feeling out a person" period before you're like "I want to be tied to you completely" sort of way. They're both dealing with their baggage from past relationships as they get into this new one.

That's kind of the major difference between the movie and the books. The book itself chronicles a relationship that, towards the end, goes sour but is saved through the willingness of the two to fess up to their darker sides and admit that they have flaws and face them head on.

The whole movie is in that awkward period where you're spending time with them, getting to know them, and having elation and deflation in turns at the aspects you discover in them. The last seen lays out everything with a heavy suggestion of where the relationship will go from there with the use of the Subspace door. Which was where the relationship started at the beginning of the movie.

Now on to Ramona as a character - The use of her hair color was perfect. Especially considering the comic book is in black and white, it did leave much to the imagination as to what her hair actually looked like with all the dye jobs.

And really, I think that was a major selling point for me digging her character. Call me a sucker for dyed hair. Maybe it's just the fact that it takes me back to my youth and people would use Kool-aid to do a quick dye job.

I love colors that just aren't seen all too often, which is probably the inner rebellious/punk in me just screaming to get out or have that social outcast girlfriend who has nothing better to do than to dye her hair in order to stand out from the rest of the people. I find it pretty damn attractive, truth be told.

I guess it doesn't hurt that Mary Elizabeth Winstead is very attractive already. But having her hair dyed.. yeah, totally. It also served a great purpose in the film as it showed a bit of Ramona's character in dealing with the past. She just likes to move on and change everything when she feels like she's in a corner or uncomfortable. In a sense, Scott's fear that he would be dropped because she is as fickle and unattached to her hair was well marked with the hair comment.

It also made for a great way to remember a character. The doodle that Scott does in trying to locate who this new mystery girl is was pretty awesome. Over all, I'm now 30 and I know those free to fuck up your hair days are behind me. I guess it was just good to see it on a character. I think the last time I saw it was in another favorite film; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

And while some critics may say that this is just a hipster's version of it.. that makes it sounds silly because Eternal Sunshine was made for and by the key demo of the hipster community. I suppose I should just take comfort in the fact that this will open the door to more people willing to dye their hair various colors and just walk in the street as if it was completely normal to do so outside of Halloween.

More power to them and I'll just end this blog with a little piece of awesomeness.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World - 'Black Sheep' Music Video from Louis S on Vimeo.

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