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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 22%
Average: 2%
Pretty Bad: 16%
Total Crap30%

5 reviews, 20 user ratings

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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Jay Seaver

"Love it or hate it, you won't know what hit you in the slightest."
4 stars

When "Moulin Rouge!" came out in 2001, I commented that it was a musical for the generation raised on MTV and sampling. I didn't mean it as a slam, just an observation, but some folks I said it to were more than happy to repeat it as if it were obvious derision. In some ways, "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" is similar - it's a romantic comedy for a generation raised on video games, comics, and manga. It's a pretty darn good one, too, but someone inclined to dismiss those media will likely be immune to its charms.

It's been a year since Toronto slacker Scott Pilgrim (Age: 22, Rating: Awesome) and his girlfriend broke up, but he's going out with 17-year-old Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) now, even though his bandmates Kim Pine (Alison Pill) and Stephen Stills (Mark Webber), sister Stacey Pilgrim (Anna Kendrick), and cool gay roommate Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin) all recognize it as a bad idea. And that's before he meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), an American girl who has just moved to town that he literally can't get out of his head. Ah, but Ramona has some baggage: Seven evil exes, whom Scott (Michael Cera) must defeat in order to date her.

The hook for Scott Pilgrim as comics was that it takes place in a world where video game logic applies: Warp zones allow Ramona to zip between places quickly, bad guys disappear and leave coins behind when vanquished, and you can pick up a second chance if a 1UP crosses your path. For the movie, director Edgar Wright and co-scripter Michael Bacall retain both the video game and comic conventions, and it's a tricky gimmick to make work; while having sound effects occasionally pop up on screen is good for reminding us of the unreal atmosphere between the times when the fighting makes things completely nuts, other bits don't translate quite so well: The infographics that occasionally pop up work better in comics because you can read captions at your own pace without slowing time down, and the "he punched the highlights out of her hair!" gag really doesn't work at all when divorced from Bryan Lee O'Malley's art style. On the other hand, Wright and company often do an exceptionally good job of pulling the audience from scene to scene without regard for how they're separated; the movie will cut to another place or a later time in such a way that it feels like there's no interruption.

And the fight scenes are a kick and a half. Wright and company really get to cut loose, with gravity-defying stunts, vegan superpowers, crazy weapons, and perfectly-placed power-ups. The choreography is often surprisingly good, too, especially when Ramona jumps in to help Scott battle Evil Ex #4, or during the double-sized finale. Granted, the oddball nature of the participants is a big part of the appeal - Jason Schwartzman and Michael Cera wailing on each other with swords? - but it's not nearly as campy as one might expect. There's laughter when the "VS" pops up on screen to formally begin the fight, but once the music kicks in, there's just as much intensity as comedy.

There has to be, because as much as the movie is well-stocked with jokes, it's important we take the fights and what they mean seriously. After all, the movie is about how love is worth fighting for, how a person in a new relationship feels the need to measure himself or herself against previous significant others, and not being able to escape one's past. It's not exactly subtle about it - though it doesn't quite use Ramona's hammer to pound it into the audience's heads - but that's why the audience is able to connect to these guys who are in many ways live-action cartoons.

They are some of the best live-action cartoons you'll see. Michael Cera is often derided as a one-note performer - I'll admit that, as a fan of the source material, I cringed when I heard he'd received the part - but his awkward shtick works better for Scott than expected, and while he falls a bit short on some of the character's spazzier moments, he's actually pretty good when things start to turn his way in a fight, and we can enjoy his new-found confidence without finding it thuggish. Mary Elizabeth Winstead serves as a great counter, with plenty of surface confidence but bits of nervousness underneath, and her Ramona moves easily between being the sane, reasonable foil to Scott and having a dry sense of humor of her own. They get to play against a great group of scene-stealers: There's Ellen Wong as the thoroughly innocent and excitable teenage girl, for instance. All seven Evil Exes are a blast, with Brandon Routh a standout as vegan-powered Todd and Jason Schwartzman the perfect slimy jerk to end things on. And Kieran Culkin is dead-on perfect as Wallace, one of the film's go-to guys to make just about every scene a lot funnier.

And that's not even half the cast - there are a lot of funny people cast in funny roles here, and for them to slip up is rare. "Scott Pilgrim"'s transition to the big screen isn't always an easy one, but it is by and large a successful one. While there are great chunks of people who just won't respond to it, it's a high-energy treat for those that do.

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originally posted: 08/17/10 02:47:05
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2010 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/08/13 Simon Technically excellent w/innovative direction, but fatally hollow unlikeable characters 3 stars
8/23/13 KingNeutron Really grew on me after watching more than once. 4 stars
5/31/13 fartvenugen Dumb, unfunny, worthless. 1 stars
6/28/12 Jerome "Milk and Eggs Bitch" - Classic 4 stars
2/04/11 matt Fucking funny and action-packed. Bizarre but somehow Wright holds it all together 5 stars
12/09/10 ES Hilarious 5 stars
11/30/10 April I love Cera and Wright, but this movie was such a disappointment. 1 stars
11/18/10 joey johnson Funny on some parts. 4 stars
10/30/10 M.J. I honestly didn't read this review but I'm 99 percent sure it used the word hipster in it. 5 stars
9/15/10 Joe What D said. 5 stars
9/13/10 Steph Well, you're a "hip" movie, here's your final reference: TL;DNR 1 stars
9/03/10 Sean My favorite movie this year, but if you don't get it, you'll hate it. 5 stars
8/29/10 UnionJ Anyone who doesn't irrationally hate Cera will love this! 5 stars
8/28/10 Mitch Dolan another near perfect movie from Edgar Wright 5 stars
8/25/10 Davey Great movie. Loved it. Edgar Wright hits another one out of the park. 5 stars
8/17/10 Flounder This is real hit and miss. I enjoyed it, but found much of it disjointed 4 stars
8/17/10 karamashi Visually stunning, fairly good adaption, a little exhaustive but overall a blast. 4 stars
8/15/10 D The fact that you toss in a reference to Sears shows how far out of the target demographic 5 stars
8/13/10 Ben Erik Childress is right. This film is a sloppy, uncontrolled failure of a worthy experiment 2 stars
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  13-Aug-2010 (PG-13)
  DVD: 09-Nov-2010


  DVD: 09-Nov-2010

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