Now that Iron Man 2's blown up the box office, it's time to turn to another comic-turned-movie with a cult following: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
What is that, you ask? Oh, I cry for you.
Rocking the old-school comics and video game references spliced with anime and indie rock -- Scott Pilgrim is a black-and-white six-volume graphic novel series with rabid fans who have followed it from midnight book signing to shiny new movie. (To those two coworkers who saw the advance screening without me: how do you live with yourselves.)
23-year-old likable slacker doofus Scott Pilgrim is "between jobs," plays in a band called the Sex Bob-omb and dates 17-year-old high school student Knives Chau (don't worry, their dating progress has reached "almost held hands"). But one day, Scott meets edgy delivery-girl-on-roller-blades Ramona Flowers and falls head over heels in love. Little does Pilgrim know that his days of loafing around are over...
For in order to win the hand of fair dyed-haired Ramona, he must first defeat each of her Seven Evil Ex-Boyfriends (collectively known as "The League of Ramona's Evil Ex-Boyfriends"). And each of them possesses an evil (not so super) superpower. Such as ... vegan-based psychic powers!! Yes. Not quite the power of Grayskull. OK, moving on ..
Thus, protagonist Pilgrim does classic video game-style battle with a different Ex each book (First up: Matthew Patel in a Street Fighter-inspired showdown) amidst romantic entanglements and live band performances. (Watch out for 8-year-old ADD drummer Trisha aka 'Trasha' Ha from a rival band. She possibly breaks drumsticks with her teeth; she is missing two of them.) Other memorable characters include Scott's gay best friend/ roommate Wallace Wells, his ever so much more worldly younger sister Stacey, and, of course, Knives.
Knives Chau: totally sweet, possibly a ninja, and absolutely crazy.
The Scott Pilgrim series is the brainchild of Bryan Lee O'Malley, a half-Korean, half-French Canadian cartoonist who grew up in Toronto and makes non-"Sex Bob-omb" music of his own. Related to nothing at all, his wife Hope Larson, a fabulous artist herself, is working on the graphic novel adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle of Time (tesser ..).
Releasing August 13th, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World seems to have retained some of its geeky awesomeness in film form. Directed by Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shawn of the Dead) and starring Michael Cera, it keeps the old-school video game motif (opening up with an 8-bit "Universal Pictures" logo) and has some real-life rad bands/ musicians (Broken Social Scene, Metric, Beck, Radiohead producer) playing the music for the onscreen bands.
Fans were also entertained by the director's sneaky surprise "unveilings" of the actors playing the beloved characters: Kieran Culkin as Wallace, Anna Kendrick as Stacey, newcomer Ellen Wong as Knives, and Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore) as Gideon Gordon Graves -- Ramona's final Evil Ex-Boyfriend (and the leader of them all) who remains a blurry mystery throughout the books until the end.
What I like: Delightful geeky franchises that happen to have some cultural diversity of characters.
Recently, I had an epiphany while watching top theme songs from '80s cartoons (Dinosaucers, anyone?): First, cartoons back in the '80s boasted more culturally diverse casts than I previously thought (even if they were of the Captain Planet variety). And secondly, comics and animations regularly featured culturally diverse casts well before their live-action TV and film counterparts, and no one made a fuss about it. Nobody said, "Please redraw this entire comic with this character as a different ethnicity. Thanks." Or, "This comic isn't selling because your superhero is the wrong color."
Funny how the cultural diversity that manifests itself so naturally and without contention in comics and animation can lead to casting controversies and meltdowns in live-action film adaptations of the same (recent example being Avatar).
Perhaps the Scott Pilgrim characters should beat some sense into those feeble-minded film execs, classic 8-bit video-game style. KA-POW!
Aaaand cue soundtrack... "1, 2, 3, 4! We are Sex Bob-omb!!"