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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

A 2010 American action comedy film directed by Edgar Wright based on the comic book series Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O'Malley.

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"You Just Headbutted My Boyfriend so Hard He Burst!"

  • Aug 17, 2010
Just imagine for a second that your life is a video game.  One where the potential exist for you to beat up bad guys, live each new day of your life as though it were a level where you score points, get extra lives and pull off amazing stunts because you simply can.  This is exactly what Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is.  A movie that turns the life of one young man into a video game.  It's zany, it's over-the-top but it's a lot of fun.  If you don't like Scott Pilgrim it's because you're way too serious of a movie goer.  Leave your snobbery hat at home, grab an extra life and settle in for a ride.

Scott Pilgrim is a 23-Year Old guy who is dating a seventeen year old.  A fake high school girlfriend. Her name is Knives Chou and they haven't done much.  And by "haven't done much," I mean they haven't done anything.  But they've got a good friendship at least.  He's also a member of a band named the Sex Bob-Ombs (a clear reference to the Americanized Super Mario Bros. 2).  Things are going well in Scott's world...  until he falls asleep and dreams of a girl going through his dreams.  Her name is Ramona Flowers and at a party Scott gets a chance to meet her and learn about her.  He finds out her job is to deliver packages for (that's Canada, for those who don't know).  When she shows up to deliver a package, Scott decides to ask her to hang.  They do.  And once they begin hanging out and eventually start dating (although Scott kind of doesn't tell Knives that), Scott will discover there's more to Ramona.  She dated 7 people previously and if Scott Pilgrim wants to be with Ramona, he'll have to defeat her 7 Evil Exes.

Scott Pilgrim is, by and large, a video game.  I'm not joking.  If you played video games during the 8-bit era then Scott Pilgrim will be easy to follow.  Each Evil Ex is basically a level in and of itself.  The Evil Ex at the end of each level is a boss.  The movie sets these moments up incredibly well by displaying VS on the screen by showing Scott on one side and his challenger on the other.  And throughout the movie you'll see Scott rack up combos along with several other video game references.

The movie makes no secret that you ARE watching a video game, however.  Not just because of the over-the-top antics (such as Scott getting the crap kicked out of him but being able to walk just fine after it all) but because it sets the tone from the moment you see the Universal Logo.  It just pops up with the typical Universal Studios music... but it's done in the style of 8-bit  It then plays a tune from The Legend of Zelda as it begins.  If you DON'T know the world you're about to enter is VERY surreal then you're already doomed.  In short, Scott Pilgrim isn't serious business, and it let's you know from the get go.  The film does other things to let you know it's surreal.  The editing gives you the sense that things are moving very quickly.  It shifts from one scene to the next seamlessly, but it can take a moment to get used to the editing technique.  In one moment for instance, Scott walks into the bathroom to use it (with a Pee Meter aptly given to show the audience when Scott Pilgrim will be done draining the lizard) and then walks out of the bathroom and suddenly is in a high school hall way... and then he awakes from a dream.  After this kind of editing takes place a few times you get used to it.  But it somehow works out.  It doesn't come off as just a gimmick, but rather seems to work well.  It's like shifting from one panel to another if you were reading a graphic novel.

It's not surprise then to find that Scott Pilgrim is based off a graphic novel, and it lets you know that immediately too.  You'll see sound effects displayed on screen for you.  If Scott hits his head against a wall or something you'll see "THONK!" pop up.  If a bell rings you see the BRINGGGGGGGGGGGG!" pop up.  It helps to set the mood for the movie well.  The editing techniques and this graphic novel style approach really help to give the audience a sense of what they're getting.  It's a very unique approach to film making. 

But Scott Pilgrim does more to let you know you're watching a video game.  Aside from Scott getting beaten and having few bruises or scars (not to mention no broken bones)... he also scores points from each Evil Ex he defeats.  The first Evil Ex is worth 1000 points.  The second is worth 2000 and so on.  Likewise, whenever Scott vanquishes one of his enemies they explode into coins that he's able to collect.  It's really awesome stuff.  If you're a gamer (particularly an old school gamer) you should see Scott Pilgrim just because you'll be one of the few people in the audience who will get it.  Who will understand that video games make little sense and have little logic... and that Scott Pilgrim is emulating that style on screen--and somehow making it work!  That doesn't mean there are no lessons learned from the cast, but it does mean that Scott Pilgrim isn't for everyone.  If you're not into gaming or the gaming culture... Scott Pilgrim is going to be a movie that will completely go over your head.  The zaniness and the video game references (such as Scott doing a 64 hit combo on the first Evil Ex or why it makes sense that Ramona is able to pull a hammer out of nowhere in a fight) are things that those who don't get into gaming won't understand.  In particular, if you never played an NES or SNES or Genesis game before, you'll probably be just as lost.  Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is clearly a movie made with old school and nostalgic gamers in mind.  If you fit into that crowd, Scott Pilgrim is by far the funniest movie you'll see this summer.  If you don't... then I expect there will be a lot of moments where you'll say to yourself... "I don't get it."

And yes, the comedy does work.  Not just the odd obscure video game references or how the film feels the need to be a graphic novel from time to time, but also because some of its comedic moments just have impeccable timing.  There are also several pop culture references.  There's a band that plays a song called "So Sad" immediately followed by a song centered around death called "We Hate You, Please Die!"  There's a snobbish prick of a vegan who asserts that being vegan makes you better than everyone else, a bi curious moment (one of Ramona's ex's as you've no-doubt seen in the trailers, is a girl and she's a little "bi-furious!").  All these pop culture gags and mash ups actually work well... because the script is fairly competent with handling it all.  The writing is pretty sharp and clever.  With characters who seem to speak in a manner that suits the film just fine.  Scott Pilgrim is kind of an idiot, but he's a tough guy.  But some of the comedy comes from the fact that at one moment you see as Scott can't understand the most simplistic of simplistic things but can kick ass when he needs to.  It can feel unbalanced, but when you settle into the logic that you're watching a video game it becomes easy. 

Another that's worth mentioning is that the soundtrack is pretty awesome stuff.  Not just the weird songs that Scott's band plays, but rather some of the tunes that are played.  The sound effects are also brilliant... if you understand that you're watching a video game.  Some of them sound 8-bit.  Scott Pilgrim certainly knows it's audience.

Which is actually one of the short comings of the movie... that isn't exactly the movie's fault.  The movie is made specifically for gaming nerds.  Unfortunately this group of people are not too common.  A lot of gamers go to the movies, sure, but a lot of movie goers aren't prone to playing video games.  It won't be a surprise if Scott Pilgrim is a box office flop because of this.  Gamers are very bad about supporting video game themed movies and non-gamers (or gamers who lack a lot of knowledge) generally don't understand them.  Scott Pilgrim is a very well put together film.  And it's packed full of neat little easter eggs for gamers... but I doubt a lot of gamers will go out to see it and I highly doubt a lot of non-gamers are even that interested in it.  You can give a lot of credit to Scott Pilgrim knowing it's audience, at least.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is based off a graphic novel by Bryan Lee O' Malley.  And for the most part, the movie REALLY knows how to capture its source material.  The themes, the weird pointing out particular things (such as an arrow pointing to a guys crotch to let you know he just peed) are awesome little additions to the film that really make readers of the graphic novel appreciate what's been done.  I don't particularly care whether or not it gets it right.  Even if it didn't Scott Pilgrim is still a very imaginatively done film.  On the other hand for those who do care, they need to know that a lot of things had to be left on the cutting room floor.  When I first read the graphic novel I was certain it couldn't be done.  In part because I was curious as to how they'd fit ALL seven Evil Ex's into ONE film.  The good news is that the movie fairly fast paced so it works out.  The sacrifice, of course, is that you can't pull everything from the graphic novel.  But for how the movie turned out it should be something anyone can take.  If you want to read the graphic novel... go read it.  The movie doesn't have to be the exact same thing and Scott Pilgrim shows a competence in adapting the graphic novel.  It knows what to include, what to cut and what to change.  Normally I'm not too big on going too far in, but for readers of the graphic novel, I thought they might get a kick out of knowing that it's actually done rather well.  If you loved the graphic novel then chances are you'll enjoy the movie even more than gamers (but if you read the graphic novel chances are you ARE a gamer).

The biggest thing to understand about Scott Pilgrim before you sit down to watch it is that you're not watching a movie that takes place in the real world.  You're watching a movie that takes place in a video game world.  And the characters act as though they understand the world they're in as well.  That's part of what makes Scott Pilgrim so imaginative.  The characters in the film clearly understand the world they're inhabiting.  They live in it and interact in it seamlessly.  When Scott vanquishes an Evil Ex and he explodes into coins, the characters and inhabitants act like that's normal or expected.  Because they know the kind of world they're living in.  It doesn't make Scott Pilgrim more absorbing... there's plenty of other things that make it absorbing.  But it does mean that it blends video game conventions and cinema together rather well.  Those who plan on adapting video games... take notes.  Scott Pilgrim has just opened up a genre for you and showed you a way you can tackle it that works.  Granted, without the graphic novel the movie wouldn't have been done this way.  Nevertheless, Scott Pilgrim definitely opens up a level of creativity that will, in time, resonate with younger audiences.  It won't do anything for those who don't particularly care for or like video games.  But nevertheless it's hard to deny the creativity of the film in and of itself. 

The point of a video game is, above all else, to have fun.  So I judged Scott Pilgrim according to that particular stance.  The movie is all around fun.  It's funny, it's got a unique style to it that you don't see a whole lot in movies, and it's absolutely amazing on the eyes.  From the crazy characters to the outrageous humor and imagination put into it, Scott Pilgrim is a film that stands apart from just about everything else because there's nothing else quite like it.  It's not for everyone, but those who it IS for have no excuse not to see it. 

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August 17, 2010
Excellent review. Admittedly, I wasn't into the graphic novels (only read part one) and I was real surprised just how much I liked this movie. I also liked the way it does some facial expressions that have that anime influence, this was a very entertaining movie! So happy you loved it. I'll be by to read your other stuff tomorrow...I am dead tired today.
August 17, 2010
I think fans of the graphic novel will be pleasantly surprised that while it cuts a lot, it keeps the same old tone and style. 
August 17, 2010
It does, I think the only reason why I couldn't connect with the graphic novels was mostly because of the kiddie art, I am used to more detail and darkness in my comics. I was real surprised just how much I liked the film too.
August 17, 2010
First off, I LOVE your review title. Secondly, between your and Will's reviews I now feel I need to see this.
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review by . August 15, 2010
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Let THE EX-BATTLES Begin in This Zany, Bizarre, Action-Packed Romantic Comedy!
We’ve all had nightmares about our girlfriend’s ex-boyfriends; some make us feel insecure, some make us feel proud while some…well, makes us forget about the whole thing. But hopefully, none of us have experienced being assaulted by the hordes of ex-boyfriends of the person we are dating. Well, those who are familiar with the graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley may still have a hard time preparing for the film adaptation “SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD”. …
review by . June 15, 2011
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After 16 years of slamming Hollywood studios for never getting our video game movies right, we finally have one that gets it exactly right. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a video game movie, even though it doesn't have a basis in any actual video games.     Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is more of a visual and cultural tribute to video games than anything. Every other element of the movie, including the plot, takes a backseat to the list of power bars, status updates, and special …
review by . December 12, 2010
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review by . January 22, 2011
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review by . August 15, 2010
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review by . July 27, 2010
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Spoiler-Free Sneak Preview: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
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Quick Tip by . February 05, 2012
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review by . May 26, 2011
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a 2010 American action comedy film directed by Edgar Wright based on the comic book series Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O'Malley. The film is about Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) meeting the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). In order to win Ramona over, Scott learns that he must defeat Ramona's seven evil exes, who are coming to kill him.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was planned as a film after the first volume of the comic was released. Director Wright became attached to the program and began filming in March 2009 in Toronto, Ontario. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World premiered after a panel discussion at the San Diego Comic-Con International on July 22, 2010. It received a wide-release in North America on August 13, 2010.

  • Poster art for "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World."
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    Director: Edgar Wright
    Genre: Action, Adventure
    Release Date: August 13, 2010
    MPAA Rating: PG-13
    Studio: Universal Pictures
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