Allright people, let’s talk Scott Pilgrim.
On the one hand, we’ve got three ass-kicking ladies: Ramona, Knives, and Roxy. Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) carries something in her purse you totally wouldn’t expect, and for those of you who haven’t seen it, I’m not going to tell you. Knives (Ellen Wong) is a woman of color in the under 18 category and turns out to be way more fierce than you would expect, so that’s cool. (Also, her name is KNIVES and no one seems to think that’s the least bit strange.) Roxy (Mae Whitman) is basically the tough gal who’s trying to stuff Scott Pilgrim in a trash can. We’ve also got one fabulous female musician, Kim (Alison Pill), who isn’t kicking ass in the combat way but definitely gets the job done where percussion is involved. And then, we have at least THREE MORE female characters with names and speaking parts (Scott’s sister Anna, acquaintance Julie, and ex-girlfreind Natalie/Envy).
I didn’t realize how many regular action movies I’d been watching until I realized that a speaking cast of about 50% women felt like a luxury. Ouch.
On the other hand, I need y’all to give me a reality check on something.
For those who don’t know, the plot is basically that Scott Pilgrim must vanquish Ramona’s seven evil exes in order to date her. He defeats his six male opponents with a mixture of physical prowess, musical performance, determination, psychological manipulation, trickery, friendship, and self-respect.
Was I right to be super-annoyed that Scott defeats his one female opponent by essentially making her have an orgasm?
Because aside from that, I was having a damn good time watching this movie. Kieran Culkin as Scott’s roommate Wallace was killing me, especially in his interactions with Scott’s sister and her boyfriend. Ramona’s clothes are lovely and if I were 10 years younger and lived somewhere with snow, I would immediately begin replicating her outfits. The plot is focused on Scott and his relationships with women, but the female characters aren’t just plot devices. They each have a distinct personality and they’re real, fleshed-out characters. Aside from Knives, three of the evil exes are men of color and there is a female drummer aside from Kim who looks Asian – not stellar diversity, but certainly something.
But there’s that one fight scene between Scott and Roxy, and it left such a bad taste in my mouth. Roxy was so badass, but Scott won’t hit a girl, so Ramona has to take over… and then give him the hint on how to defeat Roxy… which is to get her hot. And Ramona knows this because she messed around with Roxy during a phase. The lesbian/lesbians joke that you might have seen in the previews struck me as funny because it was a joke at Scott’s expense about his own mind. The fight between Roxy and Scott didn’t quite work out the same way.
Disappointingly, my gut feeling is that So Close is the best description, so I’m going with two stars. I had really looked forward to this one, but meh.
Anyone who saw it (or read it) feel differently? I haven’t gotten far enough into the comic to see if this was a direct lift from print to screen.
This post was originally published on Heroine Content, a feminist and anti-racist movie blog that ran from July 2006 to May 2012.