Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) Directed by Edgar Wright. With Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, Mark Webber, Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza.
There are times when you feel like there is no justice in the world. That a film as riotously inventive and sharp as Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World could fail so abysmally at the box office, speaks volumes of our failure as a race. Based on a graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’ Malley and adapted for the screen by Wright and Michael Bacall, the film stars Michael Cera as the titular Scott Pilgrim – a young man who literally meets the girl of his dreams (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and quickly realises that in order to date her, he must face the challenge of her “seven evil exes”.
There are many players in Scott’s life. As we meet him, he’s dating a Chinese Catholic schoolgirl – “the uniform and everything”. He lives with his gay room-mate, Keiran Culkin and he’s in a three-piece punk band called The Sex Bob-ombs. All is well until he encounters love at the sight of Ramona Flowers (Winstead), and his complications begin.
As with Wright’s previous work on Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, the editing plays a key role in much of the humour. The film is structured like a retro video game and there are related sounds and visual quirks dotted everywhere to add charm on top of charm. In less capable hands, this could easily wash off as style over substance, but the script and performances are so much fun that the open nods to gaming culture only serve to enhance the feeling of abundant joy.
What is more pleasing, is that Wright never allows the energy to drop. So many films sag and lag after a while, but Scott Pilgrim is armed with such a range of willing performances – plus some inspired cameos, that it never falters in its mission to entertain. The pick of the cameos are Chris Evans and Brandon Routh, who revel in sending themselves up as ‘evil exes’ ; Evans is an arrogant action-film-star and Routh is an obnoxious ‘super-vegan’.
Given the then (and to some extent now) standard laddish, gross-out climate of humour in US mainstream comedy (yes Judd Apatow, I’m looking about you) – Scott Pilgrim bucks that worn-trend in favour of being a clever mash-up of ideas – fusing together kung-fu, gaming culture, music and the plight of being young, restless and in need of attention. Inspired. 4.5/5