In a nutshell: Ironic hipster kids battle for love in video game themed comic adaptation. Campy humor and exceptional fight choreography included with a splashing of Edgar Wright.
From the moment I watched the first trailer for the summer film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, I thought it might be one of the hidden gems of the year. It looked funny, energetic, contained a young cast with a spattering of quality cameos and was oozing with winks, nods, nudges and shoves of homage to classic video gaming.
“Are you serious?” Is what I was met with when I expressed my excitement.
Turns out, I was 100% right. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a perfect comic book/video game themed movie (which isn’t based on a video game in particular, but rather a series of graphic novels) that weaves together solid characters in a fun story that refuses to take itself too seriously. Edgar Wright delivers a hit (that does not star Simon Pegg, although it could have………) with Scott Pilgrim utilizing a slick combination of campy humor and excellent execution that he perfected in the (Simon Pegg) films Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead.
Michael Cera (Juno, Superbad) plays the titular Scott Pilgrim, a 22 year old bass player in a band trying to catch a break. He plays the same type of character that he has become known for: naive and slightly aloof, which works fine for this film, but he also manages to pull confidence and swagger when challenged to fight for the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead of Live Free or Die Hard). As Scott is falling for the charming and mysterious Ramona, he is suddenly challenged to a fight to the death with Ramona’s first Evil-Ex-Boyfriend.
“If we’re going to date, you may have to defeat my seven evil exes,” Ramona explains to Scott.
“So what you’re saying is…we’re dating?”
Throughout the movie Scott is forced to do battle in unlikely situations with Chris Evans (Fantastic Four), Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) and Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore). Each battle is unique from the next, complete with Street Fighter esque versus graphics and an emphatic “K.O.!!!” shouted by the announcer. Expect physics to be defied, mysterious items to be summoned and a ton of extra coins. The fight scenes are tightly choreographed and are executed better than many action movies.
Rounding out the cast are relative unknowns Allison Pill, Mark Webber and Johnny Simmons as Scott’s friends and bandmates Kim, Stills and Young Neil. Anna Kendrick (Twilight, Up in the Air) plays Scott’s sister Stacey. Ellen Wong plays the easily excitable high schooler Knives Chau. And scene-stealing Kieran Culkin (Igby Goes Down) gives arguably the best performance in the film as Scott’s gay roommate Wallace.
Scott Pilgrim is a story of fighting for love that has been told a thousand times before, just not quite this way. Laced with humor and references to video games and comic books, it is a piece that is one of the most original films of the year that is truly unashamed of what it is and who its audience is. It is memorable and fun, from reel to reel.
9/10 (only for hurried fights en route to the finale)
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is rated PG-13 and is currently available on Blu-Ray and DVD.