This is the movie Kick-Ass wanted to be.
While that film occasionally sought too hard at times to blend action and comedy in a stylistically violent environment, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World does it so effortlessly that the entire film ends up playing like an erratic sugar high of pure, raw adrenaline.
Scott Pilgrim is played by Michael Cera, who once again shows little range but does his schtick better than anyone else. Scott’s in a band, has a young girlfriend, but becomes infatuated with a girl he keeps seeing in his dreams. When she happens to drop by to deliver him a package, Scott can no longer contain himself. The two end up having quite the spark, but there is one catch: Scott must square off with her seven evil exes.
The film is actually quite simple on the surface, and follows a very simple track to get us from beginning to end. But the whole package is anything but simple, as its visual flair and overall A.D.D. style creates one of the most unique and entertaining films I have seen in a very long time.
The performances are really good all the way around the board. Cera, as I already mentioned, plays Scott the exact way he played Paulie Bleeker (Juno), George Michael Bluth (Arrested Development), Evan (Superbad) and even himself (Paper Heart). You won’t get many surprises when you see a Michael Cera movie, but he’s at least enjoyable. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is Ramona, the girl with the evil exes. She’s at times aloof, but she’s still cute and mysterious in all the right ways. Supporting cast members Anna Kendrick, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Allison Pill, and Ellen Wong are all fantastic in their smaller roles. The only character in the movie that didn’t really seem to click on all levels was Wallace Wells, played by Kieran Culkin. It was through no fault of Culkin, the script just decides to revisit his sexuality and promiscuity a couple times too often for it to continue being worth a laugh.
Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) shows off a refreshing directorial style in the film. The video game and pop culture influences are all over the place, and it’s fun to see old school game screens and face offs between characters. Wright shows a great, balanced touch. There are tons of effects, but the movie isn’t defined by them. You don’t get overwhelmed or tired out by any particular element, but you also aren’t left wishing or wondering why some things didn’t appear more.
This is one of those films that, and this might sound like wicked hyperbole, defines an entire generation. Not only does the visual style placate our intense desires to have every synapse in our brain firing all over the place, but the story is incredibly real. The story, despite the over the top action scenes and sleek stylistic graphics, engages you right from the start. This film is for those of us raised by movies, television, music, video games, comic books, and lots and lots of junk food.
But it doesn’t patronize those who aren’t gamers or hipster douches. Again, the script allows for a natural ebb and flow to the events that there are no dull moments. But if you are super old and don’t “get” some jokes/references, then you aren’t left out in the Toronto snow shivering and wondering what the hell is going on. There is a fun romance (or two), evil villains, great action, chippy dialogue, enjoyable characters, and amazing visuals. If you can’t find something in that list that suits your tastes, then I wouldn’t recommend going to any movie, ever.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a fantastically innovative film that provides so many unique elements that it is actually better than the sum of its individual parts. Director Edgar Wright shows an amazing eye for putting together a one of a kind movie that, while it contains numerous effects, never feels reliant on those effects. It’s a character driven film, and Scott’s pursuit of defeating the seven evil ex’s is a raucous journey that somehow progresses logically. The film never loses its focus or tries to be too funny or too violent or too hip, and it’s this film’s balance and overall enjoyment factor that make it one of the best films of the year.
Score: 9.0/10 (Great)