“Not so long ago, in the mysterious land of Toronto, Canada, Scott Pilgrim was dating a high schooler” *Cue the Link to the Past Music*
If you would have entered my room any time during my high school career, you would have, without a doubt, found Scott Pilgrim vs the World in my DVD player. A melting pot of garage-band music, retro video games, and (dare I admit it) hipsters, the movie was everything I could have dreamed of and more. My obsession with the franchise was to the point where I would watch the film not once, but up to three times a night at the low point of my addiction. Even with the unhealthy habit of binge watching a DVD I found on sale at a Wal-Mart, it got me through some the worst points in my life, and for that I will be forever greatful to Brian Lee O’Malley (author of the original graphic novels)
Although I first encountered the dorky Canadian through the media of film, the story was originally expressed as a graphic novel series (I warn you to make the distinction of the books being graphic novels instead of comics). The plot follows the title character Scott Pilgrim, a 23 year old struggling musician. Being the bass player in the band Sex bob-ombs, he has little income, relying on his old college friend/roommate Wallace Wells to give him a place to live.
As stated in the first line of the books, the story begins with Scott getting a new girlfriend, Knives Chau, age 17. The whole band, comprising of lead guitarist and vocalist Stephen Stills, drummer Kim Pine, plus back-up bassist and #1 fan Young Neil, spend the morning before practice belittling Scott for the age difference in the newly formed relationship. The band cranks out some good tunes and over the next few chapters we see Scott’s awkward interactions with Knives, exclusively riding the bus and talking about school with her. Suddenly, over the next few nights Scott begins dreaming about a mysterious girl. He attempts to ignore them, but as the dreams reoccur his relationship with Knives gets more distant until the girl he sees in his dreams appears in a bookstore.
Enter Ramona Victoria Flowers, a 24 year old ninja delivery girl for Amazon, who was the stuff of what many 20-something year olds see in their own dreams (perhaps myself included). In a world dominated by Uggs, yoga pants, and North face jackets, Ramona was the beacon of hope for us all that basic culture had not captured every girl (now I would like to disclaim that those who fit the “basic culture” previous described are not better or worse than those like Ramona, I simply mean not all guys are into “basic girls”). Rocking a new hair color every week, a pair of combat boots, and a general cynicism for life, Ramona quickly rode the subspace highway into Scott’s and many readers’ hearts.
After meeting her, for real this time, at a party, Scott gets shot down as his social skills are not the greatest. He perseveres though and after ordering various packages on Amazon.ca (what’s the website?), he finally convinces Ramona to go on a date with him. After some cute, romantic stuff, which could make even the manliest of hipsters squirm out of joy, the beauty and the geek decide to stay together. The following day Scott decides to invite Ramona to his band’s gig at The Rockit, everything seems great until he realizes his other girlfriend Knives is going to be there too. (You see, Scott wasn’t trying to necessarily “get around” and have a bunch of secret girlfriends, he just didn’t know how to tell Knives it was over between them. Its still shitty, but minutely less so). Along with having to figure out the Knives situation, the night gets even worse as one of Ramona’s ex-boyfriends, Matthew Patel *hair swish*, shows up to challenge Scott to a duel.
Here is where the overarching plot of the series begins as Ramona’s ex-boyfriends have formed The League of Evil Exes, a group bent on making Ramona’s life hell by defeating whoever her current boyfriend is, in mortal combat (or really just a fist fight with a lot of cheating due to robots and vegan powers). Scott must defeat all 7 of the Evil Exes to finally live in peace with Ramona. I’m not going to spoil the rest of the story, since I want you to experience it your own way, however I will say that for being superficially focused on action sequences and anime-like duels, the story isn’t about the Evil Exes, instead it is about personal growth and learning what you really value in life.
I highly recommend everyone who reads this post to pick up a set of the graphic novels, however if you aren’t one for reading, I find the movie to be quite a trip also (if my binge watching of it wasn’t evidence enough). Lastly, believe it or not, the movie has its own game!
Now, generally when a movie has a tie-in-game, it kinda sucks to put it bluntly. The games are often hastily programmed and thrown onto Gamestop shelves to turn a quick buck. Scott Pilgrim vs the Game absolutely defies this principle and is according to reviewers and gamers alike, one of the best games you can buy for under $20. A retro style beat’em up, the game has the perfect balance of modern controllers/fluidity and arcade enjoyment. I have a friend who whenever I come over to his place to hang out we talk about what to play for about 10 minutes, decide to just play the entirety of Scott Pilgrim vs the Game in a night. The difficulties are fair as easy is easy and master is indeed quite the undertaking. The story is a little varied from both the movie and graphic novel’s plots but overall, a great game.
In the end, what makes the Scott Pilgrim franchise so great is how real Scott is. He definitely has his flaws. He makes bad decisions, is impulsive, and tries to make things right at the expense of himself, but don’t we all? (I admit I am guilty of the last one particularly). If I had to pick one lesson the series taught me, its Be The Best You, For You.