In a sea of sameness, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World emerges as a fine work of originality and energy. It merges everything that twenty-to-early-thirty-something men have ever loved in life: video games, crazy action, humor, and the pursuit of women. While the core story is hardly anything special, director Edgar Wright and his team have turned it into a visual feast loaded with fun action sequences and effective, if scattershot, comedy.
Michael Cera is Scott Pilgrim, as 23-year old who’s probably lacking direction. He’s in a band, but also isn’t holding down a job. He’s dating a high school girl, Knives (Wong), which supplies his friends with endless ammunition for jokes. His life is relatively uneventful until Ramona (Winstead) enters the picture. She’s cool, she’s fashionable – she’s Scott’s dream girl. But in order to win her, he must defeat her seven ex-boyfriends in video game-styles battles.
This is a rather thin premise, but screenwriters Wright and Michael Bacall have crafted a script that is constantly upping the ante in terms of Scott’s foes, and it largely delivers. The humor is hit-and-miss, often depending upon Cera’s delivery to drive it home. More impressive are the fight scenes, which are executed in classic video game-style. Points are scored and objects even emanate letters spelling out the sound they make. The sets are superb, offering up a cartoon-style vibe that escalates until Scott reaches the final “boss.”
Michael Cera continues to excel in these types of dry-humored, eccentric roles. At this point it’d be easy to pick on him for playing the same character over and over, but he’s always adding a new dynamic to the role. He carries the film and I doubt there’s anyone else out there who could call someone a “cocky cock” with as much conviction. The supporting cast is similarly impressive, led by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, as Scott’s love interest, and Kieran Culkin as his gay and frequently drunk roommate.
As someone completely unfamiliar with Bryan Lee O’Malley’s source graphic novels, Scott Pilgrim delivers the goods. It’s a unique take on the time-tested tale of the boy seeking a girl and Wright’s showdown battles are regularly jaw-dropping. The humor could have been tightened up a bit, but Cera continues to get ample laughs in the role he has perfected. As a piece of action/comedy filmmaking with plenty of retro winks, Wright can put another feather in his cap.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Length: 112 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for stylized violence, sexual content, language and drug references.
Theatrical Release: August 13, 2010
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright. Based upon the graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley.
Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick