“It was one loud, busy, videogame sort of movie.” That was all I could say as I walked out of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. It had a lot going on, more than one could possibly see and store in memory in one viewing. But why, with so much action, did I find it so tiresome?
Now, I admit that I’m not exactly the targeted viewer for this bit of madness. I’m 48 and haven’t played a videogame since I gave Pacman a whirl when it was brand new. I’ve never enjoyed the thrill of climbing game levels toward a state of gamer bliss.
But maybe that’s not the problem. I was entertained to death by The King of Kong and that was about two guys fighting over who was the world’s reigning Donkey Kong master.
Maybe, because I’m 48, I’ve spent too much time away from the 20-something dating game to empathize with the dilemma faced by Scott (Michael Cera) – deciding between two girlfriends. But, no, I can still vividly remember every instance in my life of dumping and being dumped (mostly the latter).
So what went wrong? Why did I yawn so and almost fall asleep? I got plenty of sleep the night before – I swear – and it was a 1:30 matinee.
I liked the main characters. Sure, Michael Cera has taken his lumps for playing the same character his entire career, but why? It’s a lovably nerdy sort of character that you can’t help but care about. And he’s always perfectly paired with the offbeat sort of girls you believe would fall for such a guy.
Here, the two girls fit him like gloves on each hand. Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) pairs off perfectly with Scott. They hang out in music stores a lot. They both look like they sprouted and bloomed from sapling music trees, probably in pots side by side.
Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, also memorable in Tarantino’s Death Proof as the cheerleader) feels like the girl that such a guy would desire without having a lick of chance and who would then surprise everyone – us, him, and her – by desiring him even more.
But, unfortunately for her, him, and us, Ramona has a history of dumping guys (and a girl) and breaking their hearts. They’ve formed a league of seven evil exes. To be her boyfriend, Scott must defeat all seven in duels, essentially levels in a grand videogame.
And it’s with these trials that the movie stumbles, badly. Against such an appealing central trio, the seven evil ones don’t stand a chance. They’re ridiculously unlikable and feel torn from the same cloth. Ramona made the same mistake in love over and over – and over. Now we’re paying for it.
A feeling of dread sank in when I realized that I was going to have to sit through all seven duels. That feeling turned to boredom when I realized how repetitive they were going to be. By the fourth – when I almost dozed off – I thought, “Wow. That was just like the first three.”
I did perk up when Scott got to duel exes five and six at the same time. But that relief was canceled out when he had to fight exe number seven twice.
I’m anxious to hear what my teenage daughters and their friends think of the movie. I have a hunch that I’m just an old fuddy-duddy who missed the latest zeitgeist. And as proof, I just used the word “fuddy-duddy.”