Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

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.

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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

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About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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35 Responses to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. emmakwall says:

    Great review Gareth! I agree Edgar Wright’s camera style really stands out in this movie 🙂 I’m not very good at technical talk but the way the camera moves fast and pointedly is so “him” !

    I really enjoyed this movie too! I’ve seen it a few times as well, always watchable.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you, Emma, you describe it perfectly. I’d go as far as to say it’s as good as anything he’s done. I need a few more viewings to catch all the little things I missed.

      • emmakwall says:

        You described it perfectly!!!!

        I probably don’t’ like it quite as much as his British comedy stuff – Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead etc but they’re very my sense of humour. I still really like Scott Pilgrim of course though! It’s a very good film 🙂 and a bit different to the norm.

      • garethrhodes says:

        Yes, I can see why the British stuff stands alone with many people, particularly with the winning combination of Pegg and Frost.

  2. Keith says:

    Great review. I agree whole-heartedly. My kids (probably aged 6 and 4 at the time) used to pretend to shoot themselves in the head (because of Kim doing so while sitting at the drums). That was always a fun one to explain.
    Hey, your hair is looking a little shaggy!

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you Keith, while watching this, the time just flies by. That’s funny about your kids. Children always seem to pick up on the most inappropriate things.

  3. Really fun movie. Great job on the review!

  4. Jay says:

    Nice review. Glad you like it cause I sure do and sometimes I feel I have to be a bit apologetic about it.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I know what you mean. It’d be easy to be sniffy and dismiss something like this as childish nonsense – but it bounces along with such vigour. I watched it with a constant smile on my face.

  5. indiefan20 says:

    Ugh, this movie! It plays out like a video game (if I’m in the mood for a video game, I’ll play a video game, mmm-kay?) and Michael Cera has the charisma of a wet washcloth. But I seem to be in the minority by not liking it. In my opinion, Edgar Wright’s winning streak ended where it started, at “Shaun of the Dead,” which was amazing (why do people rave about “The World’s End,” exactly?) But I guess I’m becoming a tougher customer as I get older.

    I agree, Judd Apatow is kind of shite with few exceptions (“Bridesmaids” being one of them.)

    • garethrhodes says:

      Yes, I really liked Bridemaids too – good to have a female gross-out comedy with added smarts. I can’t get on Michael Cera for bad charisma – he was supposed to be a bit of a wet dishcloth. I must say, I have’t seen The Worlds End, but it seems like opinion is split. All things aside, I think Wright is a strong shooter and would look forward to anything he’s attached to.

      • indiefan20 says:

        No, I mean he’s always a damp dishcloth… there’s no commitment or spark to his performances; he always plays some variation of an insufferably nerdy virgin kid. I did like “Juno”- but not his performance, particularly. Jesse Eisenberg does what Cera does- just better and with more pizzazz.

      • garethrhodes says:

        It’s his shtick, I guess. For my money, he does a good version of the nerdy virgin kid. I suppose most comedic actors have their thing that they do; Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin, Seth Rogen etc etc…they play the same parts over and over. I like Eisenberg too, although sometimes he talks faster than the speed of light.

  6. I love this movie, it’s one of my favorites, and one of the best of the comic book movie genre. Great review!

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you very much. There’s definitely a lot of room to love this one. It’s made with such energy and enthusiasm. It’s ridiculous how under-appreciated it is.

  7. dreager1 says:

    I always thought that the effects really looked good and I liked the premise, but the actual film looked like it may have had quite a bit of objectionable content that kept me from seeing it. Of course, I haven’t seen the trailer in years so maybe it just looked a little worse than it actually was. It would be an interesting film to see at some point though and the action scenes would certainly be a highlight.

  8. Mike D says:

    My favorite comic book/ graphic novel movie. So glad you love it too

  9. scutarii3 says:

    Super re-watchable film with great writing and it’s so much fun, I love it. And great review btw.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you very much. I agree with you about the writing – it just bounces along. I read a review on Rotten Tomatoes that wasn’t too complimentary about the script – but I think the whole review missed the general point. Looking forward to seeing this again very soon.

  10. filmfunkel says:

    Well, it’s not on Netflix but, after a review like this, I will track it down. : D

  11. Interesting review! I have never thought this of my cup of tea, though after reading your review, I think I’m going to have to give it a go! I also have Wreck-it-Ralph on the list which I still haven’t got around to seeing yet. Will be interesting to see if they are both my cup of tea or not, as I’m not an avid video gamer, but I do like a game of good old Pac-Man every now and then…

    • garethrhodes says:

      To get full enjoyment, you have to surrender to its style – but I think it’s worth it. There’s SO much crammed into to it that it ought to crumble under the weight of the amount of ideas fighting for attention – but it really clicks. I hope you watch it and love it.

      • Thanks! Watched both this and Wreck-it Ralph in the same day. I have to say, I much preferred Wreck-it Ralph. Scott Pilgrim was funny, but not completely my cup of tea, I guess. Have you seen Wreck-it Ralph? If so, which one did you prefer?

      • garethrhodes says:

        I have yet to see Wreck-it-Ralph, although I do have a ridiculously large blind-spot when its comes to animated films. I must check it out.

        I’m sorry to hear Scott Pilgrim didn’t work it’s magic on you – but I’m glad to hear you at least gave it a chance.

  12. Chris Evans says:

    Glad to see there’s another Scott Pilgrim fan out there – I’ve seen this a couple of times and it really is a unique and underrated gem. Especially enjoyed the superhero lampooning by Chirs Evans and Brandon Routh.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Also glad to hear you like it, although I’m surprised anyone could take against it. With you on Evans and Routh too – they do a LOT in a very short amount of time.

  13. Shane Ongley says:

    Love this movie

  14. ohsnapitsmaryy says:

    ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS MOVIE, idk why but when I first watched it it was not what I was expecting at all, but in a good way! wildly underrated

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