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Hey boys and girls, because of our great affection for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, we shared the joy with our main contributor and expert on the Toronto rock scene, Miz Dollie Banner.  Dollie was kind enough to bless us with a special guide to all things TO for the uninitiated (like moi!), so stay tuned after LMD’s review for Scott Pilgrim’s Backstage Pass.


In his first feature written without longtime collaborator Simon Pegg, writer/director Edgar Wright looks to the Great White North for his inspiration, finding it in the pages of the popular graphic novel series, Scott Pilgrim.  Wright, who’s enjoyed naught but success with his previous projects, the television comedy Spaced and the brilliant Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz on big screen does not fail to give his audience another blast of the audacious fun he has become synonymous with in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Scott Pilgrim has a dream; a dream of rollerblading girls with fuchsia-coloured hairdos skating through his consciousness.  When the budding rock star and bass player for Sex Bob-omb spots the literal girl of his dream at a party, he must have her.  Nothing, not even his new scandalous romance with a seventeen-year-old Catholic high school girl will stop him from getting to know the mysterious Ramona.  When Ramona tentatively returns Scott’s feelings it seems nothing can stand in their way except … The League of Evil Exes.  Ramona’s past comes back to haunt her and beat the stuffing out of Scott as seven of Ramona’s paramours take their separation issues out on Scott by way of awesome bass lines, techno music dragons, samurai swords, wire-fu and plain old beat-’em-down hand to hand combat.  Every victory by Scott is accompanied by rewards; coins for further play or occasionally an extra life, what winning doesn’t do is make Scott any more sure about his feelings for Ramona, whose ever-changing jewel-toned hair colours concern Scott.  “She’s fickle!”  Can the uncertain Toronto boy survive Ramona’s rocky past and trust in his feelings for her?  Can he ever compete with the love of Ramona’s life, New York media mogul Gideon?  Can Sex Bob-omb ever get their hands on a record contract?

Brilliant, this.  Edgar Wright, who’s flexed strong pop culture geek cred in all his previous credits, is the only director I can think of who could take this popular graphic novel and adapt it so perfectly to the screen.  Reveling in touches like Nintendo-64 effects (- including the theme song from The Legend of Zelda), deadly wushu wirework and split-screen comic book paneling, Wright lends the whole fantastical production the light touch it needs without it ever becoming cutesy or twee.  He understands at the base of all the ingenuity, cleverness and eye-popping visuals is the story of a new romance between boy and a girl.  He wisely sticks close to the source material, seemingly using Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley’s pages as storyboards with precious few variations.  Wright captures the low-fi, laid back sensibility of the Toronto rock scene (- using actual TO locations as ably reported by Miz Dollie Banner below.) and its young denizens.  It takes more than a Bollywood fight to the death breaking out in the middle of a battle of local bands to jostle these folks.  Wright never makes hyper adults out of his youthful characters nor plays them as silly kids; Scott, Ramona, jilted would-be lover Knives and everyone else in the film are just trying to sort things out.

The cast of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is pure gold:  Michael Cera’s nebbishy nerdiness is a perfect fit for the unlikely Canadian Lothario and rock god.  The signature hesitation and backhanded wit suits the film’s humour, which runs from bawdy and silly to dry and subversive.  Speaking of subversive, as Scott’s roommate and conqueror of bi-curious males, Kieran Culkin as the naughty, urbane, yet strangely maternal Wallace needs to have his own spinoff.  Culkin runs off with every scene he’s in.  Our technicolour temptress, Ramona is played with a nice blend of sang-froid and sweetness by Mary Elizabeth Winstead.  Looking like Clara Bow in a cobalt bob, her huge, soulful eyes and dubious moue conveys Ramona’s doubts and mistrust of herself and a chance at real love with Scott.  The supporting players; Ellen Wong {as Knives Chau}, Alison Pill {as Kim Pine}, Mark Webber {as Stephen Stills}, Johnny Simmons {as Young Neil} and Anna Kendrick {as younger, wiser Pilgrim sister Stacey} as Team Scott are all memorable even in smaller bits.  The villains are a hoot:  Chris Evans is particularly hilarious as Lucas one of the evil exes; a Jason Lee-type pro-skateboarder turned actor who lets his stunt team do his dirty work.  Brandon Routh gets the best role he’s had since Superman Returns as Todd, another ex whose total conversion to veganism makes him all powerful against the pizza loving Scott.  Not in the film long enough is Roxy, a ninja ex played by Mae Whitman, who may be harbouring some residual anger about her fate on Arrested Development for the butt-whupping she gives Michael Cera’s Scott.  Jason Schwartzman as the oily Gideon looks like he’s having a great time swinging around a katana.  As per usual in an Edgar Wright film the music is excellent and features not only Canadian bands like Broken Social Scene and Metric, but otaku-friendly acts like Dan the Automator and Cornelius and an almost-Canadian named Beck.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is mandatory summer viewing.  It’s fresh, hilarious and effortlessly cool while retaining a real sweetness and heart.  All the nerds, geeks, freaks, otaku and anyone who simply enjoys a good time at the movies should see this.


~ The Lady Miz Diva

August 13th, 2010



Scott Pilgrim Backstage Pass

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World shouts its love of rock music, video games and kicking ass but it also loves Canada and isn't afraid to wear its maple leaf on its sleeve.  While most movies try to pass off Toronto as some Stateside metropolis, Scott Pilgrim is proudly Torontonian.  Many of the film's Canadian charms are readily apparent, yet some others may be hidden from viewers unfamiliar with Canuck culture.  In the interest of full disclosure, I am not Canadian and have never lived in Toronto, but I do love the country and have visited often, mostly to support my favorite bands, many of whom inspired SP creator Bryan Lee O'Malley.  So if you'll allow me, I'll give you a backstage pass to some of SP's maple moments.

First and most obvious is there's a lot of Second Cup in the movie.  I don't mean an explicit sex act, but the ubiquitous coffee purveyors that are the Canadian equivalent of Starbucks.  Scott's sister Stacey works there with disgruntled friend Julie, and Scott and Ramona are seen swilling it.  Why wouldn't they, it's delicious!  The best thing about Second Cup besides the free wi-fi is the abundance of maple themed items; coffee, pastries, you name it.  A total delight, once you try it you'll love Second Cup!

We move from one of Canada's proudest franchises to the scourge of the nation.  Of course I mean Pizza Pizza, the orange and white atrocity frequently seen throughout the film and actually ingested by Sex Bob-omb post-gig.  Yuck!  Mind you I'm a bit spoiled living in one of the great pie meccas, but my first and last experience with Pizza Squared was a complete disappointment. First, their crust is only a step above the cardboard they serve at Chuck E. Cheese.  Then the
slice slingers behind the counter refused to furnish my party a plain pie despite promising to do so, and meantime someone else came in and walked out with -I swear to heaven- a macaroni and cheese pie.  I mean c'mon, make the pie, skip the Kraft dinner, presto...plain pizza.

Now we move on to the bits of the film that are dearest to my rock and roll heart - the rock and the roll.  Scott may be a coincidental member of a fledgling band, but he was taught to rock by the most charismatic man in Canadian indie music - Sloan bassist Chris Murphy!  There is no doubt in my mind that SP wouldn't have been able to muster much of a fight against Matthew Patel, let alone GGG, without the tutorialship of Mr. Murphy.  That edge can't be faked, but it can be learned.  Not only did he give Scott his great licks, but he gave the foundation of his very person - his Adidas sneakers!  Chris has been sporting black and white Adidas for as long as I've known him (longer than I care to reveal), so it's no coincidence that Scott sports the same brand kicks.  Also, eagle-eyed members of the Sloan Army will readily recognize Chris' bass in the hands of boyfriend #3, Todd.  This sequence was extra special for me because it was staged at Lee's Palace, a venerable mid-sized rock den on Bloor and Bathhurst, scene of my last sojourn to the Great White North and thus beloved.  Plus it basks in the bright lights of Honest Ed's, the bargain mega-store that's featured prominently in the books, but seen only momentarily in the film.  Ditto Don McKellar, Canadian writer, actor and filmmaker extraordinaire who appears very briefly at the helm of Lucas Lee's newest blockbuster.

Beyond this, Scott and Knives spend their time in record stores and second-hand clothing emporiums, and while I favor Rotate This over Sonic Boom and Circa 40 over Goodwill, obviously Toronto has oodles of both.  I'm sure your town does too, so you can have a bit of Scott Pilgrim wherever you are.  And if you're here in New York, there are a few Canuck things you can enjoy to have the Canadian experience here at home.  Unfortunately, Second Cup hasn't wandered south-of-the-border, but Tim Horton's has!  Canada's other coffee franchise is as well known for its beverage as it is for doughnuts.  I recommend their cocoa, which is incredible, and the Timbits; doughnut holes with extra magic.  P.S. - they too almost always have something maple on the menu.  Next is Lush, which is actually a British-based soap emporium, but I first knew and loved it in Ontario and now you can smell its pungent wares all over NYC.  Buy a bath bomb, then sing your heart out while you soak away all your troubles.  Next is the obvious: a bottle of Molsen or Labatt's will instantly give you that maple glow and can be procured at almost any bodega. Lastly, you need some Canadian music.  I recommend Sloan (of course), Joel Plaskett (in all his incarnations) and the Dears.  Feel free to expand from there.  Now dye your hair a bright and beautiful color like our incomparable Diva goddess and your Canadian Scott Pilgrim experience at home is complete.  Then go see the movie again!


~ Dollie Banner

August 13th, 2010




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(Courtesy of  Universal Pictures)


Sloan's Chris Murphy teaching Scott Pilgrim and Young Neil the sexy




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