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Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Screengrab from the movie Scott PilgrimTo what can I compare Scott Pilgrim vs. The World? Shall I compare it to director Edgar Wright’s previous efforts? It is neither as funny and warm as Shaun of the Dead nor as funny and gruesome as Hot Fuzz.

Visually, it makes brilliant use of the vocabulary of not-so-much comic books (that we’ve seen many times before), but video games. The Beach and Speed Racer are its forefathers. But it takes, as Sin City and 300 did with graphic novels, the metaphor to another level.

In fact, the film, written by Wright and Michael Bacall based on the comic book by Brian Lee O’Malley, is premised upon the metaphor of levels. As the tagline goes, to date cool chick Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) must defeat her seven evil exes. Each evil ex is like a boss, with his or her own special unrealistic brand of powers; each one leaves a pile of coins on the floor when defeated.

As whiz-bang cool as the visuals are during Scott Pilgrim’s battles, the fight scenes are the dullest part of the film. I much preferred the snappy banter between the young comedian cast — Scott’s bandmates, his rebound girlfriend Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), his gabby sister (Anna Kendrick) — to the action scenes, even if they did feature some memorable cameos from the likes of Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman & Cera’s former t.v.-girlfriend Mae Whitman.

While Kieran Culkin was quite funny as Scott’s “gay roommate,” I’m a bit sick of these hipster comic book movies’ adolescent glee in exploiting homophobia for laughs. (See also Kick Ass.)

Co-writer and director Edgar Wright on the set of Scott Pilgrim vs. the WorldIf you haven’t seen the trailer, there may be enough plot to the film to surprise you. If not, I guess your enjoyment will revolve around how much you like Michael Cera’s sad-sack line deliveries and Wright’s visual cleverness. While I enjoyed them greatly, the film never got its tongue out of its cheek enough to deliver any emotional connection. Cera’s Scott is kind of a self-interested jerk; and I didn’t get the sense that Winstead’s Ramona cared very much about him either.

If I had to compare Scott Pilgrim to another film, I guess I’d pick the Jean-Luc Goddard-directed Breathless. It’s about two young people in love, and features extreme editorial editorializing. Which is not to say that Scott Pilgrim has the heart to become a classic in the same way. Next time, Edgar, less graphics, more story. The script simply runs out of quarters: Game Over.

3 Comments

  1. Minor spoilers ahead. I agree almost completely with your review. The fight scenes were the worst part of the movie. After the first one I was dreading the six more to come. Also thought the visual schtick got old mighty quick. At it’s worst it was bad 60’s Batman. The few times that worked were usually more subtle. The time Knives said “love” and then Scott waved it away like a bad smell. THAT really added something, not the “RINNNNNGGGS” every time a phone went off. Yeah…we know it’s ringing!

    Also thought the video game framing was best when worked in with real life drama. Scott has a clever retort to a bouncer. Blam! 100 points. Clever and makes sense. The points in the “fights” were pretty meaningless.

  2. The only thing worse than comic book movie adaptations is hipster comic book movie adaptations…

  3. I wish they had made the books into two movies because I feel like they tried to hard to force all of the action into one film. If it had been 2 movies, they really could have done both the fighting and talking sections justice.

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