Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

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IMDb Rating
7.5 out of 10 (view IMDb page)

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(Based on 0 Ratings)
MPAA Rating:
PG-13 for stylized violence, sexual content, language and drug references.
Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
Edgar Wright
Michael Bacall (screenplay) &
Edgar Wright (screenplay)
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Weekly Volcano's Review

Rev. Adam McKinney on August 11th, 2010

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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a uniquely difficult film to describe; yet, I am tasked with doing so. I have not read the beloved graphic novel upon which this film is based. However, of any film I've seen, SPVTW is the closest replication to the experience of reading a graphic novel I've ever encountered.

Movies such as Ghost World and American Splendor embodied the spirit of the graphic novels they depicted, but watching SPVTW, I could actually picture how reading the original story might feel.

We start with Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), a 22-year-old, lonesome loser who -after a year of tormenting over being dumped by his ex - has decided to start dating a 17-year-old Chinese schoolgirl by the name of Knives Chau. They never did anything sexual (as Scott insists on telling his friends), but he continues abusing her affections until the magical night when he lays eyes on Ramona Flowers.

Scott spots Ramona (as played by the believably bewitching Mary Elizabeth Winstead) at a party and immediately knows she is his one and only. The rest of the film is devoted to Scott fighting for her love and affection in the face of incredibly daunting challenges.

Almost immediately after Scott wins Ramona's, let's say, interest, he learns of her Seven Evil Ex's. He must meet and battle each ex-boyfriend one by one to win her heart while simultaneously trying to win a battle of the bands with his lame garage rock act, the Sex Bob-Ombs.

At this point, and for the rest of the film, Scott's life becomes an arcade fighting game, à la Tekken or Mortal Combat or Street Fighter, with the ultimate goal being the love of the beautiful Ramona. As he defeats each Evil Ex, they collapse into a pile of coins.

Much more I should not say.

Part of what makes the film so winning is the insane style perpetrated by director Edgar Wright. After fooling around with edgy cinematography and absurdly geeky film knowledge with his previous two films (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), Wright has succeeded in going balls to the wall with a film consisting entirely of incredible style. Nary a scene goes by without a winking acknowledgement to its comic book roots, its video game aspirations, or its indie rock devotion. I imagined how hard Wright must have fought to prevent some money-grubbing film executives from turning the film into 3D. SPVTW is a perfect example how a director can dazzle in two dimensions.

There have been a couple of factions created recently with the two sides vocally represented: those who love Michael Cera, and those growing weary of him. True, his nerdy, awkward, quiet charm may rub some people the wrong way, but I'm happy to report his gradual transition into something more closely resembling a leading man. Following his brilliant performance in Youth in Revolt (a film in which he was finally allowed to speak without stammering), SPVTW furthers his growth by portraying Scott as a man willing to fight (literally) tooth and nail for the love of his life.

The characters in the film speak in exclamations that call back to their genesis on the page. Cera especially commits to the concept of behaving as a comic strip character, sometimes even intoning his lines in a sort of Charlie Brown-ish "Good Grief!" fashion.

Like many great coming-of-age graphic novels, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World may be surreal and sarcastic, but along the way it manages to deliver truths about young people. Scott's actions, though romantic at times, are often stupid and self-centered, and the film doesn't shy away from that. His shitty abandonment of the sweet Knives Chau in favor of the exciting Ramona Flowers is not forgotten, nor forgiven. We root for his eventual happiness in the arms of Ramona but never stop feeling for Knives and her heartbreak.

Youth is a twisted hall of mirrors. Everywhere you turn either your heart is being broken, or you are shattering someone else's. In the moment, you always feel like the victim. But everyone gets their turn at being the villain.

It's only a matter of time before Scott Pilgrim becomes an Evil Ex. - Three and a half out of four stars

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