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'Eat Pray Love' vs. 'Scott Pilgrim': A Weekend at the Movies

'Eat Pray Love' vs. 'Scott Pilgrim': A Weekend at the Movies

This weekend, two seemingly polar opposite films were released into theaters: Eat Pray Love and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Eat Pray Love is a breezy romantic chick flick starring Julia Roberts as a lost woman in search of self, but ultimately in search of love. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is an action-packed dude-centric comedy starring Michael Cera as a lost boy in search of love, but ultimately in search of self. While Julia's movie is geared toward 'lizbians' and the gay men who love them, Scott Pilgrim at least has one lesbian-ish character.

This weekend, two seemingly polar opposite films were released into theaters: Eat Pray Love and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Eat Pray Love is a breezy romantic chick flick starring Julia Roberts as a lost woman in search of self, but ultimately in search of love. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is an action-packed dude-centric comedy starring Michael Cera as a lost boy in search of love, but ultimately in search of self. On second thought, maybe “polar opposite” is too strong a phrase. In fact, if one were to switch Julia and Michael around in their respective films, they’d ultimately learn the same lesson in the end -- not to mention create much stranger movies. However, I certainly did not spend four hours at in a theater this weekend seeing the same film, and both definitely had something new to bring to the table.

Right off the bat, Eat Pray Love is not a movie I would normally see. The romantic dramedy is not my favorite genre by any means, and Eat Pray Love definitely takes its romantic dramedy-ness very seriously. Julia Roberts, however, is magnetically charming as Elizabeth Gilbert, the real-life heroine trying to escape the failed lovers of her past by going solo in the future. It’s a good thing Julia’s likable because Elizabeth makes a lot of questionable choices and severely hurts many of the people around her, including her harmless, doting husband (Billy Crudup). Yes, Liz is desperate to create a new life, but leaving her husband in the dust without an explanation doesn’t seem like the mature way to do so.

Following her divorce, Liz goes on a journey to eat in Italy, pray in India, and love in Bali. Now, I haven’t read the book, but before seeing the film I was under the impression that the point of Liz’s journey was to leave men behind and concentrate on herself. Naturally, I was baffled when it seemed all that Liz could think about was the men in her life. Yes, she eats some food and makes some friends, but she never seems happy. In fact, she never seems truly satisfied with her life until she finds a lover in Javier Bardem. I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised, (doesn’t the fairy tale always end with a prince?) but I couldn’t help but be disappointed. To quote an Indonesian Liz runs into several times, “Everybody needs husband.” How unfortunate that this bit of cliched dialogue suddenly turns into the movie’s theme. What about those single women like Liz who actually do want to spend some time alone? Well, newsflash: you need a husband, so whether you want one or not, you won’t be happy till you’re married.

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In the end, I wanted to see Liz become a strong and independent woman unrecognizable from the stressed out mess who left her husband. Sure, Liz does do a lot of changing for the better, but it’ll take more than a brief inner monologue to convince me that she fully learned her lesson. Still, regardless of the plot, it’s nice to see Julia Roberts gracing the screen once again, and reminding us why this woman is at the top of the A-list. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have made it through the Eat Pray Love adventure without Julia as my tour guide.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, on the other hand, seemed like it would be exactly my type of film, and I was not disappointed. Over-the-top action sequences, superheroes, quirky characters and dialogue- it’s all there in full force. In fact, it’s there in so much force that it becomes a little too forceful. Michael Cera, an actor I thought I was tired of, is surprisingly fresh and believable as Scott Pilgrim, a bumbling idiot-type dating a high schooler, but seriously in love with Ramona, the new girl in Canada.

Ramona is played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Live Free or Die Hard, Death Proof), who captures the essence of the American nonchalant punk to perfection. Unfortunately, Scott forgets to mention his new romance to his current high school girlfriend Knives Chau, played with SO MUCH ENERGY by adorable newcomer Ellen Wong. What Scott doesn’t know, however is that to be with Ramona, he must defeat her seven evil exes. One by one, Scott picks them off with unbelievable -- and hugely unrealistic --strength, earning coins and extra lives for defeating his foes.

The two best battles are between supervegan – literally --  Todd (Brandon Routh) and the ninja-esque Roxy (Mae Whitman). Roxy, the reason why the seven evil exes are not ex-boyfriends- gets the best line of dialogue as her battle cry, but unfortunately is brought to her demise all too simply.

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Alison Pill, who recently played Anne Kronenberg in Milk, makes a hilarious addition to the cast as the constantly angry monotone drummer in Scott’s band, and Up in the Air’s Anna Kendrick is always an appreciated addition to any cast. The most unfortunate aspect of Scott Pilgrim is the gay joke medley that is constant with Kieran Culkin’s character, Scott’s homosexual room mate. It’s a shame that a movie so good could take such a wrong turn in that direction. Let a character be gay without turning it into a gag -- it really isn’t hard to do.

Scott Pilgrim goes on a bit too long, and anyone can probably guess the ending without even buying a ticket, but it’s a refreshing bit of unique cinema. Neither Scott Pilgrim nor Eat Pray Love is particularly life-changing (is anything these days?), but they do teach a valuable lesson. It doesn’t matter your age or gender, self-love is totally in right now, and loving others is always a nice bonus --literally, in Scott’s case. Sometimes you have to travel the world to reach that conclusion, and other times you just have to kick a bunch of evil peoples’ heads in until they turn into shiny silver tokens (which I by no means recommend). Whatever your method may be, Hollywood wants you to give yourself a hug this week -- and don’t worry about that old Indonesian woman. You definitely don’t need a husband.

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