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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 13, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 33
Scott Pilgrim vs. Un Chien Andalou
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Scott Pilgrim vs. Un Chien Andalou

by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Opening August 13

How many 18-24-year-old dudes would trot out to the local MegaCinePlex to see Un Chien Andalou, a film with a tagline that read, 'A purely Surrealist cinematic experience that owes a great debt to André Breton, Luis Buñuel, and Salvador Dalí'? My estimate: seven.

In his seminal 1924 text, Breton defines Surrealism as 'a pure psychic automatism by which it is intended to express, either verbally or in writing, the true function of thought. Thought dictated in the absence of all control exerted by reason, and outside all aesthetic or mental preoccupations.'

In other words, Surrealism, despite the capricious bandying about of the term by the masses, seeks to render thought into art.

What the fuck does all this have to do with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? Scott (Michael Cera) is a 22-year-old garage-band slacker who's dating the safest girl in Toronto (Ellen Wong) while mourning the break-up with his ex-girlfriend, Envy Adams (Brie Larson), who has since become a huge rock star and dates her über-hot, slightly psychic bass player, bleached blonde vegetarian boy toy Todd (the smokin' hot Brandon Routh, aka Superman).

Just when Scott thinks he has a groove on dating a safe girl and drowning in self-indulgent grieving, in walks Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the mysterious new girl in town who oozes droll hipster boredom - which is apparently like pheromone-crack to 22-year-old garage-band slackers. Without breaking up with the safest girl in the world, Scott begins to pursue Ramona with all the intensity expected of a horny 22-year-old garage-band slacker. Just as he starts to make some serious headway with the object of his affections, enter one Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha), Ramona's first ex. And thus Scott finds out he'll have to fight all seven of Ramona's previous lovers if he wants to date her.

So, what the fuck does this have to do with a bunch of dead Europeans who did weird stuff in the 1920s and '30s? The bottom line is that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is pure Surrealism as defined by Breton and practiced by Buñuel and Dalí. Director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) expertly moves us from a dingy apartment shared by a 22-year-old garage-band slacker and his Queer best friend (Kieran Culkin, stealing scenes like a Wall Street investment banker) into the mind of that 22-year-old garage-band slacker. Once there, we find a world filled with girls and bands and guys and cool clubs. There are guys that are cooler than Scott, guys better looking than Scott, guys who play guitar better than Scott, and guys who are more savvy than Scott. And Scott has to kick their asses one by one.

The psychic world of Scott Pilgrim is a place where fantastic fights end with no blood, no bruises, and only one man standing. It's a place where graphic hearts pop out of kisses and music emanates aurally, physically, and visually. It's a place where nice guys treat girls badly but still get to end up with them. It's Scott's mind cinematically turned inside-out in the digital age, and it looks a lot like a video game - a really fun video game.

Cera delivers another excellent take on his awkward guy shtick. He somehow manages to shake things up each time, and while Scott Pilgrim is a subtle departure to say the least, the character is its own thing. The Culkin in the flick (the only one I can spot for certain is Mack) offers up one of the coolest Queer characters to ever grace the silver screen in Wallace Wells, the quick-witted best buddy who delivers sage advice while lounging on a double mattress with his aimless straight friend.

Alison Pill (so, so good in Milk), Ellen Wong, and Anna Kendrick are gorgeous and turn in great performances. Brandon Routh and Chris Evans are over-the-top fun as the hot guys we all dreamed of either beating up or kissing (or both) in high school. Johnny Simmons is dreamy, so I don't know or care about his acting. And Jason Schwartzman proves once again that something magic runs in the blood of the Coppola family.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a stylish and original ride through the baffling 22-year-old male mind. It's also one of my favorite movies of the year.

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