Book versus Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Let me get this right out in the open so that there are no illusions about my lack of bias here: I hate Michael Cera. I hate looking at him, I hate listening to him talk, and I hate the only role that he has ever played: the awkward kid that is somehow supposed to be cool or funny or something. HOWEVER. I also acknowledge the fact that the role of Scott Pilgrim was pretty much made for him.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about the books. I resisted reading them for a very long time based entirely on the fact that Michael Cera plays the main character in the movie, and that must mean that I will hate everything about the main character. Who wants to read about a protagonist that they hate? (For example: Holden Caulfield.) I was eventually swayed entirely by overbearing peer pressure. Contrary to my expectations, I really liked the comics. I found them a bit disjunct, but I think that was probably intentional. I liked that the characters had some emotional depth to them, each with their own back story and the emotional baggage therewith. Each character makes some kind of personal development, and there is a greater, overarching story line that is not really ever made completely clear until the very end. All of these things I thought were really great, in the comic.

You’ll notice that each of the things I thought were great in the comic were the things that were unceremoniously ripped out of the movie.

I was encouraged at first when the opening scenes were taken word for word from the beginning of the comic. I thought that the style of the movie in general was really true to the comic, but the story seems to have got a disfiguring face-lift. Every relationship between characters became a little simpler so that they could justify cutting out interactions. (For the sake of brevity, I imagine.) As a result, the whole story got much less complicated, and much shallower. The entire side-plot about Envy was pretty much dissolved. The band-mate with the cyborg arm? She got less than one second of screen time.

Don’t get me wrong. The movie was still entertaining. People like it. If it weren’t for my irrational hatred of Michael Cera, I might even be willing to say that I enjoyed it. My problem is that they took a good story, with at least somewhat three dimensional characters who develop, and dumbed it down into a simple, whimsical action movie. I guess I am just disappointed because the movie is kind of dumber than I was led to believe.

[Edit: I sort of truncated this post because I felt it was getting kind of babble-y, and I wasn’t sure if the internet world really needed my detailed and specific opinions on the subject. Since I have been told by a couple of people that this seems like it was going somewhere and then didn’t, I guess I will go into the detail that I intended to go into originally at some point in the future. There will be a link later.]