While Winter’s Bone, the little film no one saw, is finally getting talked about, there’s another film from 2010 that barely anyone saw and is sadly getting no recognition. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was a colossal financial disappointment (during its time in theaters, the film did not make back its $60 million budget), and it’s actually difficult to pinpoint the reason. It starred the awkward favorite Michael Cera–who has never had a problem attracting an audience before–and also rising star Anna Kendrick, who achieved success in both the commercial Twilight series and the Academy Award-nominated Up in the Air. The film was praised by most critics and even appeared on some of their lists of top ten movies in 2010. So what gives, America? Why did no one see this surprisingly funny and innovative film?
For starters, it is a hard sort of film to sell. Cera himself said he didn’t know how they would convey this sort of movie in a marketing campaign, and before I went to see it late in the summer, I had maybe heard of it once or twice. This movie simply didn’t generate a lot of buzz on its own, and its studio did not bother to bring in back up. It is based on a series of graphic novels that were released starting in 2004–so not exactly a superhero classic that the fanboys line up to see.
I certainly wasn’t looking forward to seeing it. It’s one of those few movies where the trailer does it no justice and actually makes the movie look worse than it is, a pretty rare occurrence. Pay attention to the video game and graphic novel references in the trailer–the sounds actually spelled out in the background, the crashing through walls, and the extra lives. And then imagine them frequented throughout a whole movie.
Right. It looks weird. Not the kind of trailer you see during every commercial of your weekly TV show. The movie is surprisingly compelling though. It’s fast-paced and quick-witted, packed with mile-an-hour conversations and showy graphics. It won’t lose your attention, even if this isn’t your sort of movie. Kieran Culkin, one of Macaulay’s look-alike brothers, is completely hilarious as Wallace, Scott’s best friend. His humor makes this movie quotable. If only anyone knew what you were quoting.
Maybe Michael Cera has worn out his welcome in Hollywood with his one-trick acting. I can’t say his character in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is different than anyone else he has played, although he could have done any number of things with the role.
I can say that this movie deserved a Golden Globe nomination for Best Comedy a hundred times before The Tourist did. It is not exactly the speed the Academy often looks for, which is their loss, but the Globes honestly has no excuse.
The movie did have a small following of people who saw it and could attest to its greatness. Many people who saw it can go on and on about how it is such an original film and they’ve never seen anything like it. Scott Pilgrim definitely tests the usual boundaries of Hollywood filmmaking, but don’t be so quick to say it’s the first of it’s kind. The 1998 German film Run, Lola, Run (starring Matt Damon’s girlfriend in the first two Bourne movies), similarly applies graphics, wildly colored hair, split screens, and a theme of “do overs.” For those who loved Scott Pilgrim and are looking for something similar, check it out. Don’t worry, it has subtitles.