Scott Pilgrim vs. the World hit theaters in 2010, only a few years after the graphic novel upon which it is based hit shelves. I’d never heard of the Scott Pilgrim comics before seeing the movie trailer. It’s another strange genre-bender. Action-romance, maybe? It’s a genuinely fresh type of movie; I haven’t seen anything quite like this before.
22-year-old Canadian, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) plays in an amateur rock band called “Sex Bob-omb” that is trying to gain popularity and get an album recorded. He dates Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), a high-school girl five years younger than him. Scott hasn’t quite recovered from being dumped by his former girlfriend, who is now a success with her own band. After a concert, Scott’s band attends a party to try to schmooze with some sponsors. There he meets a mysterious American girl named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and falls head over heels for her. Scott has trouble breaking up with Knives while also trying to romance Ramona. As if juggling two women wasn’t enough, Ramona comes with baggage; seven ex-lovers who form “The League of Evil Exes.” Each one wants Scott dead, and he must fight to the death in order to win Ramona.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is really creative and funny. The most overt element to this movie is all the video game references. It’s not based on a video game, but the flashy visuals and sound effects make lots of references to video games and anime. We’re talking back when video games were good; Super Nintendo-style video games, not X-Box 360 junk. It’s almost like a movie based off of an action video game about dating. The fight scenes resemble the Street Fighter video game and Dragon Ball Z episodes. Scott’s pick up lines involve facts about Pac-Man. At one point, Scott even gets a “1-Up.” The social parody in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is hilarious enough on its own, but all the video game-isms rack up the humor and style by several notches.
Another neat thing about this movie is all the subcultures that appear in it. Independent musicians, vegans, video gamers, skaters, the LGTB community, and hipsters all make appearances in this movie. But unlike most comedies that crack jokes at the expense of such subcultures, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World doesn’t put down or mock anyone. For example, one of the evil exes is vegan, and being vegan gives him psychic superpowers. Chris Evans plays Lucas Lee, another evil ex, who is a “pretty good” skateboarder turned “pretty good” action movie star. Every skater I’ve met seems to treat their board as an extension of themselves, and Lucas uses his ever-present skateboard not only to do stunts, but also as a weapon. Every subculture in this movie is depicted as a normal part of society, not a bizarre thing to be mocked.
The pacing is a bit slow, despite the constant action. Nevertheless, it remains entertaining and fun to watch. The story gets a little repetitive, though. It’s a series of fights with evil exes with scenes of amusing romantic awkwardness linking them together. That’s not to say it’s bad, it just falls into a predictable pattern about half way through the movie. There’s some impressive cinematography and fight-scene choreography. They do some really neat things with the lighting. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was written and directed by Edgar Wright. He also did Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007), which are both great comedy movies. Wright really does an impressive job with the writing and direction of this movie.
Music plays a strong role in the movie. I’m of the opinion that there hasn’t been any good music released in well over a decade. Most of the music didn’t appeal to me. A lot of it sounded like music a group of amateur teenagers might put together in their mom’s garage. Incidentally, that’s kind of what the band members in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World were doing. So the music fit well into the movie. They also convinced Nintendo to let them use some classic tunes from The Legend of Zelda video game series, which was hilariously implemented.
If you enjoy classic video games, anime, or have ever had relationship problems, you’ll find something to enjoy in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. It’s refreshing in its lack of pretension and lack of smirking irony. Depending on your age you could probably interpret it as a postmodern epic for the Nintendo generation or a statement on modern youth detachment from actual human emotions though the advent of technology. Young adults and teens that grew up with Nintendo (like I did) will probably get a huge kick out of this movie. Older adults might become irritated with the flashy visuals and constant dialogue about the modern dating scene. It has become a cult classic in only a couple of years and is a great cinema spectacle to behold. I recommend seeing it.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World seems to be the first of a “video game” movie genre; not actually based on a specific video game, but is designed to look like a video game. The upcoming Wreck-It Ralph movie looks like it will be similar. Do you think video game movies like these will become a legitimate movie genre? Why or why not? Comment below and tell me why!