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Best Gamer Movie Ever

5 Reasons Why Scott Pilgrim vs The World Is the Greatest Gamer Movie Ever Made

Scott Pilgrim

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Most video game movies are what happens when a B-movie can’t find the B button. Amateur extras fitted with costumes more cheaply made than the original game’s box, trained to repeat keywords with all the enthusiasm and understanding of a parrot perched on joystick. Except that parrot could conceivably still play Pac-man.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World isn’t just a better video game movie, it’s by far the best video game movie. Possibly the only true video game movie, in the sense of being “a movie about video games” instead of “a terrible action movie which happens to share a title with a video game.” With costar Brie Larson on this week’s Comedy Bang! Bang!, we’re looking at how Scott Pilgrim vs. the World totally KO’d the world of video game movies.

5. It’s About Gaming, Not Just Games

Most video game movies make the mistake of thinking that a game is solely about plot. To find out how true this is, ask your friends how many of them sit through cut-scenes. Most mash the buttons to get back to the action, and the phrase “unskippable cutscene” has become a curse, an awful appendix to games many players can’t wait to cut out.

A bad video game movie is an unskippable cutscene which lasts over an hour and a half. Video games are about interaction, which means movies break their very first rule by default. They miss the part of the game that people actually like — the gameplay. A video game movie should replicate the experience of playing the game while also offering a solid story. It’s not enough to litter your script with a few lines of dialogue from the game and expect players to be impressed that you know how to say “Bloodrayne” without laughing.

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Boll KG Productions

Scott Pilgrim understands the problem of porting something to a new format, because it’s already doing that. The filmmakers are adapting a black-and-white cult comic book for the silver screen, so they’re already altering things to fit the format. Director Edgar Wright understands that if you don’t use what the movie medium offers, there’s no point in transporting the concept there at all. This movie doesn’t just mention gaming culture in passing —  it animates it, projecting it on a larger scale than ever before. It lives and breathes its gaming references, instead of just offering them as treats for sitting through a dreary plot like ice cream for a kid forced to eat their vegetables.


4. It Understands Video Game Tempo

The most important aspect of gaming that Scott Pilgrim captures is tempo. This isn’t a movie with 90 minutes to tell a story — it’s got 90 seconds before it loses your attention. Each scene is studded with new beats, fast effects, and alternations in pace and angle designed to keep the viewer interested. This acceleration doesn’t just look like a video game, it feels like one — fast and fun for a generation trained to take on a different theme every 10 minutes.

SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD, from left: Shota Saito, Jason S chwartzman, Satya Bhabha, Chris Evans,

The most blatant gaming design decision is replacing the conventional three-act movie structure with the Seven Evil Exes from the comic. A lesser movie might have abandoned the comic’s nod to classic video game levels in favor of a more traditional narrative. But Wright and co. kept faithful to the comic, and filled each sequence with wonderfully numbered references, forcing the film into endless escalation.

Even better, each Evil Ex celebrates a different style of gaming boss battle. After the basic beat-em-up level, Scott faces many more tropes of gaming. The army of minions, co-op tactics, summoning magical monsters, using a special item (instead of a jeweled sword of destiny it’s a coffee with milk), even the unbeatable boss who has to be tricked into taking themselves out. Even Bowser from the Mario games once defeated himself by jumping where the hero told him, though Bowser wasn’t trying to grind a skateboard. (Though now that we say it that’s the best video game idea ever.)


3. The Special Effects Capture Video Game Tropes Without Being Overly “Realistic”

The fun, brightly colored video game aesthetic on display in Scott Pilgrim is an antidote to the current trend of ridiculously “realistic” comic book and geek culture movies. Even Superman has suffered from the current visual effects trend, which is to drag those effects into a rock quarry and throw them down a dark mine filled with blasting explosives. And Superman is a man who wears bright blue pajamas in public. Scott Pilgrim reveled in its heightened “artificial” nature and unleashed visual and sound effects from gaming culture like Ryu unloading special moves in Street Fighter.

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Universal

Far too many video game movies feature sequences where obviously computer-generated sprites escape equally obvious computer-generated threats, resulting in less drama than stubbing your toe. These automatic sequences look like a PlayStation quick-time event with all the interactivity removed, reducing people to sitting and staring at a computer playing with itself.

Scott Pilgrim is brimming with imaginative special effects that put the viewer in a video game-influenced world without trying to make everything look awkwardly “realistic.” This movie celebrates traditional video game graphics because it understand both the games and the generation that grew up loving them.


2. It Had A Brilliant Video Game

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Ubisoft

Making a good movie out of a video game is difficult, but making a good game out of a movie is outright sorcery. Video games based on movies are a modern alchemy, a process which should give rise to unlimited wealth but mostly pumps out awful sludge. Even Iron Man couldn’t get a good game, and he’s literally a man in an armored robosuit exploding his enemies. But Scott Pilgrim‘s sheer central joy shines so brightly it burned right through the bullshit to become a brilliant retro game. And we used “B” a lot in that sentence because, like all old-school fighting games, you’ll “B” using it a lot too.

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Ubisoft

The Scott Pilgrim game wasn’t a simple conversion, it was a triple distillation. The comic harvested author Bryan Lee O’Malley’s lifelong love of retro gaming, the movie collected it and condensed it into a couple of hours, and the game distilled it into its purest essence. If a love of ’80s gaming was whiskey, this would be the 25-year-old vintage. And it’s just as glorious as that sounds.


1. Michael Cera Brings The Average Player to Life

The best representation of gaming culture is one that Scott Pilgrim achieved by accident. Or rather, Michael Cera achieved on purpose. Every other actor in the movie was perfectly cast to play their respective parts. Wallace Wells, Stephen Stills…they all looked like they strolled off the page and into the shot. Kim Pine is so perfect we still think a genie read the original comic and decided the character was too cool not to exist.

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Universal

Michael Cera, on the other hand, is the player. He doesn’t look exactly like Scott Pilgrim. He looks exactly like Michael Cera playing the part of Scott Pilgrim. He’s the person inserted into this perfectly crafted world to make it work. He’s there in part because Hollywood wouldn’t authorize a big enough budget without at least one well-known actor in a starring role. He’s the one who put the money in to get the game to start. He’s the arcade player, the everyman, the one who decided to play this part and have some fun. He’s the embodiment of the average gamer who starts off as a nobody, but once they enter the world of the game can suddenly bust off 64-hit combos, meet amazing characters, teleport from place to place and solve problems with a flaming sword. He took the weapon, and had great fun doing what we gamers always wanted to do in real life.

All the other non-player characters are perfectly constructed solely to assist Scott on his quest. Scott is the “player” who is just passing through, working his or her way through the game to unlock the ending before moving on to the next game. And that made Michael Cera the ultimate video game movie star.

SAE SDCC 2017

SDCC OMG

Stan Diego Comic-Con

Stan Against Evil returns November 1st.

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Photo Credit: Erin Resnick, GIFs via Giphy

Another Comic-Con International is in the can, and multiple nerdgasms were had by all – not least of which were about the Stan Against Evil roundtable discussion. Dana, Janet and John dropped a whole lotta information on what’s to come in Season 2 and what it’s like to get covered in buckets of demon goo. Here are the highlights.

Premiere Date!

Season 2 hits the air November 1 and picks up right where things left off. Consider this your chance to seamlessly continue your Halloween binge.

Character Deets!

Most people know that Evie was written especially for Janet, but did you know that Stan is based on Dana Gould’s dad? It’s true. But that’s where the homage ends, because McGinley was taken off the leash to really build a unique character.

Happy Accidents!

Improv is apparently everything, because according to Gould the funniest material happens on the fly. We bet the writers are totally cool with it.

Exposed Roots!

If Stan fans are also into Twin Peaks and Doctor Who, that’s no accident. Both of those cult classic genre benders were front of mind when Stan was being developed.

Trailer Treasure!

Yep. A new trailer dropped. Feast your eyes.

Catch up on Stan Against Evil’s first season on the IFC app before it returns November 1st on IFC.

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Grow TFU

Adulting Like You Mean It

Commuters makes its debut on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Jared Warner, Nick Ciavarella, and Tim Dean were once a part of Murderfist, a group of comedy writers, actors, producers, parents, and reluctant adults. Together with InstaMiniSeries’s Nikki Borges, they’re making their IFC Comedy Crib debut with the refreshingly-honest and joyfully-hilarious Commuters. The webseries follows thirtysomethings Harris and Olivia as they brave the waters of true adulthood, and it’s right on point.

Jared, Nick, Nikki and Tim were kind enough to answer a few questions about Commuters for us. Here’s a snippet of that conversation…

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IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Nick: Two 30-somethings leave the Brooklyn life behind, and move to the New Jersey suburbs in a forced attempt to “grow up.” But they soon find out they’ve got a long way to go to get to where they want to be.

IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jared: It’s a show about how f*cking stupid people who think they are smart can be.

IFC: What’s your origin story? When did you all meet and how long have you been working together?

Jared: Nick, Tim, and I were all in the sketch group Murderfist since, what, like 2004? God. Anyway, Tim and Nick left the group to pursue other frivolous things, like children and careers, but we all enjoyed writing together and kept at it. We were always more interested in storytelling than sketch comedy lends itself to, which led to our webseries Jared Posts A Personal. That was a show about being in your 20s and embracing the chaos of being young in the city. Commuters is the counterpoint, i guess. Our director Adam worked at Borders (~THE PAST!!~) with Tim, came out to a Murderfist show once, and we’ve kept him imprisoned ever since.

IFC: What was the genesis of Commuters?

Tim: Jared had an idea for a series about the more realistic, less romantic aspects of being in a serious relationship.  I moved out of the city to the suburbs and Nick got engaged out in LA.   We sort of combined all of those facets and Commuters was the end result.

IFC: How would Harris describe Olivia?

Jared: Olivia is the smartest, coolest, hottest person in the world, and Harris can’t believe he gets to be with her, even though she does overreact to everything and has no chill. Like seriously, ease up. It doesn’t always have to be ‘a thing.’

IFC: How would Olivia describe Harris?

Nikki:  Harris is smart, confident with a dry sense of humor but he’s also kind of a major chicken shit…. Kind of like if Han Solo and Barney Rubble had a baby.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Nikki:  I think this is the most accurate portrayal of what a modern relationship looks like. Expectations for what your life is ‘supposed to look like’ are confusing and often a let down but when you’re married to your best friend, it’s going to be ok because you will always find a way to make each other laugh.

IFC: Is the exciting life of NYC twentysomethings a sweet dream from which we all must awake, or is it a nightmare that we don’t realize is happening until it’s over?

Tim: Now that i’ve spent time living in the suburbs, helping to raise a two year old, y’all city folk have no fucking clue how great you’ve got it.

Nikki: I think of it similar to how I think about college. There’s a time and age for it to be glorious but no one wants to hang out with that 7th year senior. Luckily, NYC is so multifaceted that you can still have an exciting life here but it doesn’t have to be just what the twentysomethings are doing (thank god).

Jared: New York City is a garbage fire.

See the whole season of Commuters right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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C'mon Fellas

A Man Mansplains To Men

Why Baroness von Sketch Show is a must-see.

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Mansplaining is when a man takes it upon himself to explain something to a woman that she already knows. It happens a lot, but it’s not going to happen here. Ladies, go ahead and skip to the end of this post to watch a free episode of IFC’s latest addition, Baroness von Sketch Show.

However, if you’re a man, you might actually benefit from a good mansplanation. So take a knee, lean in, and absorb the following wisdom.

No Dicks

Baroness von Sketch Show is made entirely by women, therefore this show isn’t focused on men. Can you believe it? I know what you’re thinking: how will we know when to laugh if the jokes aren’t viewed through the dusty lens of the patriarchy? Where are the thinly veiled penis jokes? Am I a bad person? In order: you will, nowhere, and yes.

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Huge Balls

Did you know that there’s more to life than poop jokes, sex jokes, body part jokes? I mean, those things are all really good things, natch, and totally edgy. But Baroness von Sketch Show does something even edgier. It holds up a brutal funhouse mirror to our everyday life. This is a bulls**t world we made, fellas.

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Oh Canada

After you watch the Canadian powerhouses of Baroness von Sketch Show and think to yourself “Dear god, this is so real” and “I’ve gotta talk about this,” do yourself a favor and think a-boot your options: Refrain from sharing your sage wisdom with any woman anywhere (believe us, she gets it). Instead, tell a fellow bro and get the mansplaining out of your system while also spreading the word about a great show.

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Dudes, that’s the deal.
Women, start reading again here:


Check out the preview episode of Baroness von Sketch Show and watch the series premiere August 2 on IFC.

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