I don’t consider myself the conventional nerd. I’m not interested in technology; in fact I have trouble finding out how to change the screen resolution on my computer monitor. I don’t read comic books — except for those couple of times where I sat adjacent to the graphic novel section in Borders. To top of these stereotypes, I’ve certainly never had sweaty palms and moments of euphoria over screenshots of the latest video game. But that being said, I do consider myself a total geek when it comes to all things cinematic and this of course, didn’t make me a prime customer for Edgar Wright’s latest film, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Luckily though, I was cultured enough to understand the plethora of retro-video game references and thus I was able to enjoy the film for what it is — a celebration of all the pixilated joys that most of us had the time to experience in our younger days.
Now let’s start with the hype which makes Scott Pilgrim vs. the World to be the greatest thing to happen to cinema since well . . . the camera. I’m sorry for anyone who is still holding onto this belief, but though the film happens to be excellent and thoroughly entertaining and perhaps even a cultural milestone, it simply isn’t the best film imaginable. I can, however, safely say that Wright’s attempts to mend cinema, video games, and comic books work — it is the first film in which enemies turn into coins when defeated, health bars are displayed, and towering “thuds” invade the screen during fight sequences, and honestly, it was all awe-inspiring.
The plot of the film is as follows: Scott Pilgrim seems to live the “perfect” life. He’s an awesome bass player, he’s in between jobs, and is dating a high school student. But his life spins out of control when a roller-blading and extremely fashionable girl by the name of Ramona Flowers, starts appearing in Scott’s dreams and then his everyday life. Eventually, the two get to talking (when Scott orders a package in order to get a chance to mingle with Ramona, who works as a delivery person) and Scott asks her out on a date. They fall in love but women-issues aren’t the only thing Scott has to worry about, as Ramona has seven evil ex-boyfriends, who Scott must defeat in order for them to be together.
But though I praised Scott Pilgrim vs. the World for being the first of its kind, I do have several complaints about it. First of all, the screenplay which was written by Wright and Michael Bacall seems to be written by a comedian suffering from ADD. It does have its funny moments but the story just jumps around uncontrollably. We are presented with Scott and Ramona’s relationship and within five minutes they are having sex and then fighting, now my past relationships have certainly been turbulent but it certainly took much more development to get to that stage (more like ten minutes). Michael Cera, who plays Scott Pilgrim and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who plays Ramona just aren’t given enough material to work with and thus their chemistry suffers dramatically.
But I do have a newfound respect for Cera. His work on the film’s many action scenes is surprisingly good and though Cera remains in his comfort zone by playing Scott, he does stray away a little bit, which is commendable because I’m tired of this young talent being so easily type-casted. Cera’s infectious charm is one of the most powerful driving forces in the entire film.
Winstead is equally entertaining to watch, however, I found her character to be absolutely loathsome sometimes. I didn’t know if I appreciated the independence to just fuck over men uncontrollably to be sort of awesome, or if I should have been pissed because she reminded me of my ex-girlfriend . . . decisions, decisions.
However, I did not enjoy all of the evil ex-boyfriends. In fact, I only enjoyed Chris Evans’ character, Lucas Lee, a conceited action star who gives Scott a beating as the second ex-boyfriend. This is actually the first Evans performance that I enjoyed and though that’s not saying anything as this is his first good performance, it deserves some respect points. Who did I really hate? Brandon Routh as Todd Ingram: His character is absolutely disproportioned and has the stupidest fucking source of power ever — the fact that he’s a vegetarian. Now I don’t know if I feel comfortable spoiling some of the film, but I must for the sake of humanity — Scott actually defeats Todd by making him drink half-and-half milk and the goddamn vegetarian police come and take Todd’s powers. God help us all.
Other cast members that I did enjoy were Kieran Culkin as Wallace Wells, Scott’s gay roommate, Ellen Wong as Knives Chau, Scott’s high-school girlfriend, and Anna Kendrick as Stacey Pilgrim, Scott’s sister. I enjoyed all of them for the same reason — they were charismatic, cutesy and just spreaders of cheer and even a cynic like me needs that sometimes.
I feel like I should end my review for Scott Scott Pilgrim vs. the World by channeling the spirit of classic video games like “Legend of Zelda,” “Mario,” etc. (all of which the film parodies).
MY RESPECT FOR EDGAR WRIGHT AS A DIRECTOR: +8
MY RESPECT FOR HIS ABILITY AS A SCREENWRITER: +3
MY RESPECT FOR MICHAEL CERA: +8
MY ADMIRATION FOR THE FILM: +5