Archive for August 17th, 2010

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Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Kicks Its Ass

August 17, 2010

In early 2005, a college friend of mine lent me his copy of Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life. Its manga-like cartoony art turned me off at first, but by the halfway point I had grown to appreciate the comic’s fun, uniquely humorous and eccentric style. As a resident of Toronto, I was also delighted to see how so many of the city’s locations and landmarks were either referenced or featured in the comics.

The next year, the same friend invited me along on a trip to the Toronto Comic Art Festival at Old Vic College on our university campus. It was a chance to support our local comic artists and writers, as well as a chance for my friend to meet Bryan Lee O’Malley, the creator of Scott Pilgrim. I had become quite the fan at that point myself, and remember buying the first three volumes of Scott Pilgrim and getting a sketch of Knives Chau from O’Malley at his table. He signed my books and also threw in a copy of sketchbook prints.

Now in the summer of 2010, it was really neat to finally see the Scott Pilgrim comics actualized on the big screen in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Obviously, being a Toronto-native and a fan of the series, I’m biased and can hardly give an impartial  review, but I personally liked it a lot. Even my husband, coming from a more neutral background, found it entertaining albeit a little different and very strange.

For the most part, the movie’s tone stayed very loyal to the comics, though at the time I had not read Vol. 6 yet, which is latest and final installment that I just bought at the bookstore today. I was impressed at how the team was able to more or less fit the content of all six books into just under two hours, but the side effect was a very fast pace that made the movie feel like it had ADD. Because of this, I have a feeling that people unfamiliar with the series or story will either find Scott Pilgrim vs. the World a) irritating, or b) wonderfully refreshing, depending on your outlook.

Admittedly, a huge part of my enjoyment came from the down-to-earth depictions of the characters and the ability to relate to their situations. Gamer culture, geek culture and general pop culture feature heavily in both the comics and the movie, as well as a generous dose of the urban youth attitude and indie-rock scene that’s so unique to the city of Toronto. I still find it unsettling when I reread the books sometimes and come across parts that make me go, Wow, I actually know people JUST like that. Watching the movie was also a like a nice trip back to my home city. It brought a smile to my face to see signs for Pizza Pizza (my favorite place for pizza at 2am in the morning) or the inside of Lee’s Palace (saw a concert there once) and pretty much every single time I recognized a landmark like Honest Ed’s, Casa Loma or just about any other familiar street corner.

(By the way, Scott’s lament that $2.60 wouldn’t even be enough for the bus is true. Go to hell, Toronto Transit Commission, everyone knows TTC actually stands for “Take The Car/Cab.”)