An open letter to ‘Twilight’ fans about ‘Scott Pilgrim’

08.20.10 9 years ago 68 Comments

First, let me just say that’s a lovely shirt you’re wearing today.

I know we’ve had our differences, “Twilight” fans.  I mean… there was that one time… and then there was that other time… I admit it.

But even when I’ve been most vocal in my dislike of the actual “Twilight” films, I’ve had enough respect for “Twilight” fans and the conversation with them to take those reviews seriously.  I don’t dismiss the books or the fanbase… I just disagree.

Last year, when “Twilight” showed up at Comic-Con, I remember having a long talk with Devin Faraci at one point during the weekend about how much fun “Twilight” fans looked like they were having, and how nice it was to see.  Some were young, enthusiastic, vocal, and wide open to the experience of the rest of the programming at the Con as well.  Some were older, but not the typical Comic-Con crowd, newbies who seemed to dive in whole.  It was impressive, and it was a reminder of just how fervent our first big pop culture loves can be.  I was a “Twilight” fan when the first “Star Wars” came out.  Rabid.  Enthusiastic.  Ready to expound on the matter at any opportunity.  Passionate enough to argue with anyone who dared speak ill of my beloved.  And it was my gateway drug to everything else I love today.

So far, “Twilight” hasn’t really been a gateway drug to other things.  Not in any demonstrable way. But it should be, because there will come a point where “The Twilight Saga” will be over, and you’ll have seen all of the films and read all of the books so many times that you won’t even really register each new viewing or reading, and you’ll need something new.

Why wait?

Especially when “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” can use the help.

What do the two films have to do with each other?

More than you’d think, and if you’ll give me your attention for just a few moments, I think I can make a case for why you should at least try the movie.  And I know you haven’t because if all of the fans who went to “Twilight” in the opening weekend went to see “Scott Pilgrim” in its opening weekend, then we wouldn’t need to have this talk.

First, there’s the most obvious thing the two films have in common:  Anna Kendrick.  As with the “Twilight” series, she’s relegated to a supporting role here, playing Scott Pilgrim’s little sister, and she brings the adorable.  I like how she calls Scott “little brother” even though he’s older because it’s obvious that she’s much wiser.  She does nice work in “Pilgrim,” although it’s not really her film, and since you’re used to seeing her show up, throw down some cute, and split, she should make all of you “Twilight” fans comfortable, given you something familiar to hold onto.

And you’ll need it, because “Pilgrim” is a very different animal than “Twilight” on the surface.  The “Twilight” films all aim for a slow simmering thing, every emotion pent-up and amplified by the repression of it.  “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” swings in the other direction, with the entire world serving as an expression of the inner life of the lead character, so there’s a hyper-kinetic quality to even a simple dialogue sequence.

At heart, though, once you acclimate tot he visual language of the film, I think you’ll find that “Scott Pilgrim” is exactly the sort of entertainment that you already love.  It is, underneath all the bells and whistles, the story of a young man who is in love with a dream girl while dealing with his responsibility to the person who loves him.  It’s about a love triangle in which there are two equally worthy and interesting people both competing for the love of the lead character, who is working through a sort of crisis of definition as it happens.  You could easily make teams for this film, although here it’s a guy torn between two girls, so it would be Team Ramona and Teen Knives.

Ultimately, love stories have been told thousands upon thousands of times, and there’s nothing new about them.  With “Twilight,” vampires and werewolves are used as a metaphor to deal with feelings of longing and fitting in and community and sexual mores, while in “Scott Pilgrim,” kung-fu and video games and rock music are the tools used to explore the responsibility we have to people we are in relationships with, and what we do when we break up with people and have to demonize them to rationalize the end of things.  You’ve already demonstrated as a fanbase that you can make that metaphorical jump and see through the trappings to the real story being told underneath.

You’ve got a long haul until there’s a new “Twilight” movie, and it’s going to be a difficult one, since this is the book you’re least sure how they’ll adapt.  You need to find something to distract yourselves, something that can offer you the same sort of rewards.  Sure, Michael Cera isn’t Robert Pattinson.  I get that many of you are fans because you think this cast member or that one is dreamy.  Honestly, though, “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” is a crush machine.  The young cast is so cute, so funny, and so game for anything that I would wager that no matter what your taste in guys or girls, someone in the cast is going to ring your bell.  Guys, you’ve got Mary Elizabeth Winstead and the uber-cute Ellen Wong.  You’ve got Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick.  You’ve got Brie Larson, for gosh sakes.  And girls?  Say you’re not into sweet guys with a wicked sense of humor, so Cera’s not your thing.  The ladies sure do love Jason Schwartzman.  And Brandon Routh.  And Mark Webber.  And Johnny Simmons.  And Chris Evans.  It’s one of those casts that seems to have been loaded like a shotgun, designed to hit as wide a target as possible.

Look, we’re heading into the second weekend for this movie, which is make or break.  What are you planning to see this weekend?  “Vampires Suck”?  Don’t.  That movie is awful, and the makers of the film don’t respect you.  They’re not trying to make you happy.  They just want your money.  That’s a cynical, rancid fart joke dragged out to (barely) feature length by simply rehashing “Twilight” plot points and then adding a pratfall.  It’s awful.  It’s depressing.  And it flat out hates your series.

“Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” wants to make you smile.  It wants to entertain you.  It wants you to get lost in the love story and invest in Scott’s attempts to learn.  It wants you to pick a team and get invested.  In short, “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” is never going to replace your beloved “Twilight” series, but it may expand your experience as movie fans.

I believe in you.  I’ve seen how passionate you can be.  And I truly believe that your interest in “Pilgrim” would be rewarded with something that speaks to you.

Take a chance.  Buy a ticket.  Go in groups and give it a try.

And if I’m wrong?  Well, you’ll always have “Breaking Dawn.”

“Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” is in theaters everywhere.  For now.

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