Dear Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World,
I really don’t know what to say. I feel like such a fool for ever giving you a second chance. Yet I did – at the behest of all of my friends who know you so well and swear by your finer attributes – only to find that all of my less-than-sterling memories and impressions of you were only amplified by the clarifying lens of foresight.
Am I a fool? A fool for failing to see your greater achievements? You have so manysuperlative references and passionate defenders that I feel as though the only truth in my animosity towards you must be my own insanity. Or am I a fool for allowing social pressure to force me back into an intimate and personal interaction with you despite my own misgivings?
For better or worse, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, I gave you a second chance, and I just don’t see things working out between us.
But where to begin! I hate to think of simply brushing you off without reason. My friends, the many who love and defend you, would never forgive my frigidity in that respect. I feel I owe you an explanation.
Let me begin, darling Scott Pilgrim, by saying that you have many, many fine qualities which at first beguiled me. Your director (Edgar Wright), whose progeny I have felt so much affection towards. Your kinetic and frankly inventive editing. The strange, juvenile energy brought to every scene. Even your main premise, that of a lovelorn slacker literally fighting against his true love’s former partners for a future with her, is inspired. For the first fifteen minutes I knew you, I loved you.
But time makes fools of us all, and in the end your characters’ lack of definition and your hyper-extended ambition repelled me to the point that I could see no future between us.
You see, Scott Pilgrim, there are innate differences between the person you go to the clubs with and the person you walk down the aisle with, and regrettably all of your charm and charisma is not enough to make up for your faults. You are simply not a long-term prospect.
If you must know, the cracks in our happy veneer began to appear during your first fight scene. To begin, this was by far the most flamboyant and over the top of all the hyperbolic and broadly-drawn Seven Evil Exes, and to lead off with him turns your tone around so quickly and jarringly that I don’t know if I ever really recovered. What was a clever hyper-reality turned into a terribly uncomfortable Saturday morning cartoon. I looked forward to each fight less and less throughout the course of our time together, which is never a good thing for a movie with the word “Vs.” is so clearly displayed in the title.
It was also around this time that I realized your characters were never going to get deeper than they first appeared to be. Yes, their energetic and manic attitude is fun to begin with, but at some point you wish they would settle down and let you in. I want you to let me in, Scott Pilgrim, but you just refuse to. And that is not a problem solely confined to your secondary characters, either.
It is your protagonists, your two main leads, that truly bring me to the core of my loathing. How, dearest movie, do you expect me to want to be with you forever when I find both Scott (Michael Cera) and Romana (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) so endlessly grating. He with his whiny voice, his sullen looks, and his defeatist attitude (if not towards Romana than simply towards life in general). He seems as though he were a man resigned to nothing, capable of nothing, and desirous of nothing. How can I care about him when he cannot care about himself? I know he becomes slightly more bearable by the end of the movie, but that is not enough. Making someone go from vacant to present is no more a character arc than renting a room at a hotel is the beginning of a new and glorious life.
And the object of his affection; she with her “oh I’m so quirky” hair-color changing and her endless opacity with regards to her own desires. I can see that he might love her because she is hot and has one more shallowly characterized quirk than the rest of the cast, but I can’t imagine that a woman who has people willing to fight to the death for her would want someone so like a glass of day-old milk: pale, boring, unpleasant, and generally unsatisfying.
But perhaps I am being too cruel regarding these odious characters and their indefensible decisions and actions. Some of us can’t help the way we are, and I am almost certain that Michael Cera is the same during repose as he is during sex and roller coasters.
No, your truly fatal flaw, Scott Pilgrim, is during your final waning moments. You see, I just don’t know what you want from me, or what you expect me to gain from you. Life is hard? Relationships take time? You can’t love until you love yourself? It’s OK to cheat as long as you have self respect? I know you were seeking to create a mature and morally relevant look at the modern world of 20-something relationships, but all you ended up doing was completely falling all over yourself in an attempt to make a one-line moral seem as though it were some deep divine truth that only you could deliver.
Twice does your character seem to be choosing someone over someone else, before he invariably flips back to the former. The last two fight scenes amount to what is perhaps the most confusing moral-revelation in the history of cinema. I don’t know where the cheek ends and the sincerity begins.
An excess of ambition is never a sin, save for when it results in a lack of clarity.
Oh, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, please forgive me my cruelty. My intention in every break-up is to make the schism as painless and impersonal as possible. It’s not that you’re an objectively bad movie, as evidenced by the leagues of people I both care for and respect who will fight me tooth and nail in my opinion of you. It’s just that you and I will never be. Can never be. I gave you more of a chance than I thought I would, and I do not regret seeing you, but I am sorry to say I will never see you again.
It’s not you, it’s me,
Brian J. Roan