Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Actually been wanting to review this one for a while, but kept forgetting. This ends now.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

“Have you seen Scott Pilgrim yet?”, “When are you going to review Scott Pilgrim?”, “Just how do you make every single one of your reviews so damn funny?” and so on. When people cotton on to the fact I’m a sad bastard with more reviews under his belt than notches on his bedpost, they tend to ask if I’ve reviewed certain titles. The one that keeps coming up is Scott Pilgrim. People seem to really care about this film and I felt bad for not catching it in the cinemas. I shouldn’t have been so tough on myself as judging from the film’s box office, hardly any motherfucker went to go and see it. Still, let us not confuse box office takings with a film’s quality (so many people make this mistake).

“Prepare to feel the wrath of the League of the Evil Exes.”
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World unsurprisingly tells the story of Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), a bit of a loser who falls for the literal girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). However, if Scott is to date Ramona he must fight and defeat her seven evil exes (no, I’m not going to list them all here). For those who haven’t read the comic, the plot is refreshingly new. It’s like an indie romcom crossed with Street Fighter II. For the best part of the film it works too. Michael Cera is that one character he plays over and over again, but there are enough funny lines to make this bearable. I liked Mary Elizabeth Winstead, but I’m not sure if it was because I find her insanely attractive or not. Of the exes, both the cinematic superheroes made me laugh (Chris Evans and Brandon Routh), with Evans’ Lucas Lee particularly cracking me up with his ridiculous voice. Scene-stealer extraordinaire though was Keiran Culkin’s Wallace Wells- Scott’s roommate who possesses the amazing ability to text at the speed of light, even whilst unconscious.

After the brilliant 8-bit Universal logo, the opening 15 mins of Scott Pilgrim annoyed me. It was like the opening of Juno with jumpcuts and added visual quirks. Much like that other Cera starrer, I felt it was trying way too hard to be liked. Still, I persevered and the film started to improve leaps and bounds. I began to find some of the visuals funny and started to enjoy it. Things really get a kick up the arse when Ramona’s first evil ex, Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha), shows up and we get a Bollywood-inspired fight between him and Scott. The choreography is brilliant, but points would be awarded here anyway for Patel’s inspired “demon hipster chicks”. For a film that has so much fighting in it, the fight sequences are all unique and inventive. All credit goes to Edgar Wright and the fight choreographers who ensured that things are kept fresh.
I respect the film for having its hero actually be a bit of a douche. The way Scott treats his Chinese girlfriend Knives Chau (played fantastically by Ellen Wong) is nothing short of dickish. You truly empathise with Knives and urge her to find someone better than Prick Pilgrim. The comic book Scott is also a bit of a knob, so it’s not purely down to Cera’s perpetually awkward, squeaky-voiced portrayal.
Funny that I should follow my Paul review with this one, as it allows me to look smart by proving my own point. As I said in that 7 paragraph joygasm: “You just can’t be niche when you’re dealing with 8 digit budgets.” Scott Pilgrim is proof of this. It’s a niche title packaged for mainstream audiences. For all the lines that could have been in any comedy, such as the sardonic Kim line: “Scott, if your life had a face I would punch it.”, there are ten or so references (or should that be “Links”?) to things like the Legend of Zelda games that Joe Q. Seatfiller is going to miss out on. Sure, the film works without getting every geek reference, but I feel it alienated a big part of the mainstream audience the film was (wrongly) marketed to. I understood and appreciated most of, if not all the little nods, but I’m just one man with a misspent childhood. Your average filmgoer didn’t spend most of the ’90s staring at colourful moving pixels. They’re not going to be used to the idea of defeated enemies exploding into coins and the like. Even if they are, it’s not going to have the resonance that it does with people like me.
“When I’m around you, I kind of feel like I’m on drugs. Not that I do drugs. Unless you do drugs, in which case I do them all the time. All of them.”
Thing is, I really like Scott Pilgrim vs the World. It’s a lot of fun. As I said, the fights are great, the dialogue mostly decent and it has held up to repeat viewings in the way that so few films these days do. The film is destined for cult success on DVD/Blu-ray and I really heartily recommend you pick it up. It will divide opinion like a specially designed laserknife, but those who like it will like it hard. Those who aren’t fans can go elsewhere for their jollies. As one of my wise friends said: “How can you not like a film with the Vegan Police in it?”

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