Despite its juvenile humor and exhausting pop culture references, the infectious attitude of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World won my heart.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a quirky comedy about the young bass guitarist of up-and-coming garage band Sex Bob-Omb who has to fight the seven exes of his latest love interest, Ramona Flowers. If you read the film’s premise and you shrug your shoulders, stop reading and completely forget that this even exists: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World isn’t for you. If, on the other hand, you grew up in the 90s and have a thing for video games, have I got a movie for you.
Like other Edgar Wright films (you might recognize the English director, screenwriter and producer from Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz or The World’s End,) this is an eccentric comedy that uses every trick in the book to make you laugh or at least engaged with that’s going on. Wright’s trademarks are all here in some form: there’s a unique visual style and a quirky sense of humor. We already knew that this director was able to pull off a remarkable comedy, what we didn’t know was that he was able to take from an unlikely source to make something so fresh.
See, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is based on a comic book and you can definitely tell just by looking at it. The visuals are eye-popping: there are onomatopoeic sound effects flying around, sound effects taken from classic video games, surreal fight scenes and when you think the people involved ran out of ideas, you see a gauge on top of the protagonist that drains as he pees. The sense of humor is incredibly juvenile, but that doesn’t make it less effective. With this film, Wright wanted to bring a comic book to the big screen and the result is something dazzling and inventive. Luckily, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’s style and it goes beyond the visual aspect. The dialogue is sharp, the upbeat punk-rock soundtrack is a blast to listen to and the characters are quirky and memorable.
Think about it, this is a film with Michael Cera as the super hero, a slew of references to video games and a premise you can sum up in just a sentence and this is more memorable than most of the DC Universe or anything that Marvel has made in the last decade or so. Scott Pilgrim isn’t for everybody, but at least it takes some risks with a genre that’s famous for being the same thing again and again.
Structuring a film as if it was a beat ‘em up video game is a dangerous proposition. At times it feels like this movie was made for the YouTube generation or for those who can’t pay attention for more than a few seconds. The result is a movie that’s dazzling most of the times, yet everything is so fast and furious that you barely have time to think about it. Also, there’s no character development, but neither the film nor the audience really needs them. You could define most of the evil exes in a few words (Hollywood actor and former skateboarder Lucas Lee, superpowered Vegan Todd Ingram, electronic musicians and twins Kyle and Ken Ktayanagi and goth/hipster Mathew Pattel,) but do you need these antagonists to be more fully fledged? Not really.
Despite not being in the target audience, I found this film’s attitude infectious and I forgot most of its issues. There are pop references that escaped me, the setting was completely unfamiliar to me, some jokes went right over my head and I couldn’t relate to the characters that much, but for what it is, I found this comedy incredibly touching and amusing.