When twenty-two year old bassist/video game enthusiast Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera, Superbad), literally meets the girl of his dreams, Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Black Christmas), there are just a few problems: Ramona’s seven evil exes, who Scott will need to battle to the death, how to handle breaking up with Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) the seventeen year old ingenue Scott just began seeing, and Scott’s own evil ex, enormously successful singer Envy Adams (Brie Larson, Greenberg). Can Scott survive these challenges and land Ramona?
When Scott Pilgrim received mixed reviews, often broken down along age lines; several critics complained that they could not navigate the film’s many references to video games and video game culture, right down to the story structure, and that the film felt overwhelming. To these critics, it is difficult for me to respond, as I’ve played enough video games from the Atari through the Playstation 1 (with forays into 2 and 3) to not understand what they are talking about. Surely I missed a reference here and there, but what was important was that this is not merely a film for the “fanboys and fangirls”, but a classic love story told with style, humor and flash to spare by director Edgar Wright, the director of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. While it is true that the love story is a little light as we never really get to know Ramona beyond her status as a mystery girl and source of desire for Pilgrim, the film’s sin in this area is no worse than most romantic comedies.
While Pilgrim takes his time to actually grow a pair and be worthy of his status as the protagonist, the supporting cast is a hoot, from band mates Kim (Allison Pill, Pieces of April), Stephen Stills (Mark Webber) and Young Neil (Johnny Simmons, Jennifer’s Body), to sardonic roommate Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys), high-strung sister Stacey (Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air), and the bitter all-knowing and profane Julie Powers (Aubrey Plaza, Mystery Team). These characters, and more, flesh out Scott Pilgrim’s world, and add much of the comedy. Also highly enjoyable are the seven exes themselves, whose battles Wright crafts into enjoyable, inventive, and often hilarious set pieces. Chris Evans (Sunshine) and Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) come off far better here than in their outings in superhero movies (also makes one wonder why no one has given Wright a full-fledged superhero film yet), while Jason Schwartzman (The Darjeeling Limited) uses his considerable smarm to great effect.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World more than makes up for any shallowness of its lead character or familiarity of its tale of love and growing up with a funny script, great cast, and clever direction. A must see for anyone who feels they can navigate the video game inspired set-up.
I had a lot of fun watching this movie, too.
My theory on its box office tanking has more to do with piracy than lousy reviews, though. I think the movie was designed for the bittorrent generation and suffered accordingly. Shame, really.
I wasn’t really speculating on the box office, though I suppose you are probably right, and that is sad. Especially since mere VCD piracy was enough to basically destroy the old Hong Kong film making scene, and I’d hate to see that happen to the film industry as a whole.
My comment on the reviews was more aimed at the fact I read/heard quite a few that basically said “THIS FILM WAS INCOMPREHENSIBLE! I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT!” and so I expected to be similarly affected, as I’m not really a big gamer, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found the film very enjoyable and not at all weighed down by too many video game references.
I still haven’t seen this, which is kind of stunning considering how much I love the books. If MIT hasn’t yet shown it at their LSC film series, I’ll definitely catch it there; some movies were just made to be watched in a lecture hall full of geekfolk.
(You neglected to mention Mark Webber’s nerd cred: He was the guy in Drive Me Crazy who had an online romance with an unknown girl that turned out to be the prom queen.)
As someone who hasn’t read the comics, I can’t say how it is as an adaptation, but as a film it’s tons of fun.
If I’ve never seen anything by an actor, I usually don’t bother to pick one of their credits, unless it’s a really well known role for them. My actor crediting is a little idiosyncratic.
I’m glad you reviewed this. Funnest movie I’ve seen in a very long time.
(And it’s a solid adaptation of the comics. They’ve changed a bunch of things, as they do, but a) what they change at least makes sense, given the change in medium, and b) they completely nail the tone and style, so it’s all good.)
I’m glad I saw it…definitely agree that it was very, very funny. Good to know it’s a good adaptation, too, I may be checking those out sooner than later.
Oh, I agree that it was funny, but I also meant “most fun” — I’ve seen it a couple times now, and it just kinda instantly puts me in a good mood…
Teach me to look fast and respond…yes, I agree 100%. A joyful film.
[…] Why Watch it Today?: It’s Kieran Culkin, who steals much of the movie as Scott’s best friend and roommate, birthday today. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was an unnecessarily narrowly marketed film that continue director Edgar Wright’s excellent track record with bringing funny, fun films with geeky subjects to the screen. Read my full review here. […]