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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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Some good laughs, but generates NO emotional involvement

  • Aug 17, 2010
  • by
As a 46 year old male, I know that I am not the target audience for SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. But I am a voracious consumer of movies and feel that my tastes are pretty eclectic and that I'm open to just about anything (cinematically speaking). I'm also a fan of Michael Cera, even though I've said before that I'm a little tired of him presenting the same character over and over.

So, with all that said, I am sorry to conclude that despite the seemingly universal love of this film, I am NOT a fan of SCOTT PILGRIM. There are many elements that are actually quite enjoyable, but at the heart of the story (which is supposed to be an epic romance) there is no heart.

Scott Pilgrim is a bit of a loser. He plays bass in a band that hopes to do well in a local Battle of the Bands...but also apparently hasn't ever really had a gig before. He's in his 20s but dating a 17 year-old high school girl. He rooms with Wallace (Keiran Culkin) in a true hovel of an apartment..and is about to be evicted. And he's played by Michael Cera, the master of the smart but super insecure and lovelorn loser.

One night at a party, Pilgrim spies Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) from across the room. She's got brightly colored hair, wears lots of layers of black clothing and is clearly out of Scott's league. But he tricks her into a first date, and there are sparks and a relationship ensues. But Ramona is a girl with baggage. Baggage that can literally come back to bite Scott.

Ramona has seven ex-lovers (going all the way back to eighth grade), and it turns out that Scott must wage more-or-less mortal combat with each of these super-heroic exes. This is all presented in the manner of a video game, with points being racked up and Scott and his opponents executing Mortal Combat -type moves. This structure is the primary conceit of the film...and for me, it only worked sporadically. The fight scenes have a sameness about them. The cleverness with which they are executed diffuses any opportunity for tension or drama...and we never for one second doubt that Scott will triumph.

But I'd have mostly overlooked this if I had cared one bit about the relationship between Scott and Ramona. First of all, he's already dating the 17-year-old Knives Chau (Ellen Wong)...and she's a delightful girl, so the whole time, we're left feeling bad for her rather than good for Scott. But more than this, Michael Cera has become a virtual caricature of his persona. He first introduced himself to the world in the excellent, dare I say classic, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. Then he rose to general stardom with his refreshing work in SUPERBAD. And then each subsequent performance was essentially a riff on the exact same character, and each time, the power of that character to amuse was diminished. Now Cera, with his doughy face and lack of a chin, is utterly and completely unbelievable as a person who could make sparks fly across a crowded room. When Ramona has a deeper voice than her boyfriend, it's also very hard to take him seriously when he's crushing opponents played by the likes of Chris Evans (FANTASTIC FOUR).

The film has a cast full of charming young ladies. Alison Pil, Anna Kendrick, Ellen Wong, etc. In fact, Pil (who plays the drummer in Scott's band) is the most dynamic performer in the film. Her freckled face, short red hair and unflinching ferocity are compelling, and I wanted to see more of her and less of folks like Culkin, who is seems to be the "token gay friend" of Pilgrim. He's wan and pale and hedonistic in a low key way. Even the usually fun Jason Schwartzman (as the ultimate ex boyfriend) is phoning in his work, as though he doesn't quite understand what it's all about. He's also the closest thing to an adult in the film. I might be remembering this incorrectly, but I don't think there are any adults in the film at all...it's a world populated entirely by teens and twenty-somethings. That's perfectly fine, but it adds another layer of removal from reality that the film really doesn't need. It's as though the creators don't want us to actually care about anyone in the film, but would rather we were simply enamored of the visual style and off-beat story.

I know this is based on a graphic novel, but while setting the film in snow-swept Toronto makes for some nice comic book visuals...it adds yet another layer of chill on any emotion the film might generate.

I laughed a decent amount, and I wouldn't say that I actively hated SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD...but for a film that expended so much energy and was so clearly in love with itself, I found it to be a deep disappointment. I imagine it will enjoy a long life with a small but very devoted group of fans...and most of its viewers will forget it very soon after seeing it.

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More Scott Pilgrim vs. the World reviews
review by . August 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
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
posted in Movie Hype
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
In terms of actors today, Michael Cera is kind of overrated. He plays the same character in every single movie he's in: the awkward, geeky teen who's either anxious to lose his virginity or just be generally geeky. That doesn't mean that every once in a while, he can turn in a good performance, and Scott Pilgrim is definitely one of them. This is an incredibly awesome movie, and epic of epic epicness indeed. It's also kind of hard to put into words unless the person you're talking …
review by . January 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
This movie grabs your attention from the display of the Universal Logo.  The Universal theme music is like  the sound of an old video game.   Scott Pilgrim seems to drift from dream to reality and the scenes rapidly shift with written text to explain who the various characters are.       Scott is in a band with an ex-girlfriend and two other friends.  He lets them know that he is dating Knives, a 17 year old Chinese girl.  Everybody seems against …
review by . May 02, 2011
Scott Pilgrim. This has got to be one of the funniest, most creative, most interesting, most entertaining movies I have seen in a while. I could probably think of many more adjectives to describe this wonderful film, but I'm afraid that you'll have to make do with this review. From the minute I saw the opening logo for this movie I knew it was going to be something special and when I finally saw this in theatres, I was not disappointed. It does have its problems, but it will most certainly …
review by . March 16, 2011
I saw this movie on my friend's birthday. We talked it over and were picking between this, The Other Guys, and Vampires Suck. I'm so glad we picked this. Scott Pilgrim encapsulated the idle young adult generation so perfectly that I have no choice but to give this a 100%. Hell, if I hadn't seen Kick-Ass, How To Train Your Dragon, or any of the oscar bait movies, Scott Pilgrim easily could have taken the number one spot. This truly got robbed at the box office and I only hope its doing …
review by . August 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Scott Pilgrim Saved my World
SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD   Written by Michael Baccall and Edgar Wright   Directed by Edgar Wright   Starring Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick and Mary Elizabeth Winstead      Stacey Pilgrim: Are you legitimately moving on or are you just being insane?   Scott Pilgrim: Can I get back to you on that?      By the time you reach a certain age, if you’ve tried at all to make connections with other human …
review by . August 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
review by . August 16, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Scott Pilgrim ROCKED my 8-bit world!
I heard about the Scott Pilgrim movie about 2ish years ago and my response was: No... no way.  How can they even begin to capture the pure epic awesomeness of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic book series Scott Pilgrim compressed into one movie?  It can't be done.  Wait?...  What is this you say ... Michael Cera's going to play Scott Pilgrim?  The cutie pie guy that fans the flames for geek girls everywhere?  Well that changes everything.      …
review by . July 27, 2010
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Spoiler-Free Sneak Preview: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
One of my projects is watching Rotten Tomatoes' list of the worst movies of the last decade and, in doing so, I've pontificated at length on the misery that is movies based on video games. To recap: there are a bunch on the list, many are directed by Uwe Boll (perhaps the worst director of all time), the most critically-acclaimed video game movie ever is the not-so-great Mortal Kombat. Video game movies usually take themselves too seriously and fail by having to stick to story lines that …
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Ranked #146
I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … 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.

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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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