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Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

By James Beale
October 9, 2010

From the opening Universal logo, "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" is simply a different type of film. It takes its source material, a series of graphic novels by Bryan Lee O'Malley, and dutifully attempts to replicate the experience.

"Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" succeeds, creating a unique visual style that dominates the film. The screen, at times, is filled with words, creating the effect of a fighting video game. At first it's jarring, but eventually these little ticks, including constant shifting of the aspect ratio, add to the computer-generated imagery (CGI).

Director Edgar Wright uses all types of stylistic flourishes that makes the movie pop off the screen. Wright combines his past work, taking the dry wit of "Shawn of the Dead," and the action of "Hot Fuzz," to another level. What makes this work is that the characters don't question the outrageous world they inhabit; they're happy to live in it.

Scott, played by Michael Cera, is an easily identifiable 22-year old slacker who falls in love with Ramona Flowers, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. In order to win her, he must fight her seven evil "exes."

This is the perfect way for all of the cultural references that perpetuate both the O'Malley novels and Wright's work to flourish. Older viewers may be a little blindsided by some references, as this is clearly a film aimed at the 20-something crowd.

The band's name, Sex Bom-omb, or the bass line from Final Fantasy II, are perfect examples of these modern references. It's a wonder how the film barely made half of its $60 million budget back with a battle between a giant gorilla and twin dragons.

Cera, who has played the same character since 2003's "Arrested Development," deviates from the usual. He doesn't come off as a dorky nobody or a wanna-be badass, as he was in "Youth in Revolt."

Here, he's playing a grown up version of George Michael Bluth: Still awkward, but with new found determination. Sure, he still is a hipster looking to get the hipster girl, but the journey is completely different.

If only "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" made us see that change a little more clearly. The visuals dominate the average writing, which fleshes out characters but makes us care little for them.

The visual effects are to the extreme, but the emotions or characters are nowhere close to that intensity. By the end, the central conceit with the "exes" feels hollow.

Even with what doesn't work, "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" takes risks and mostly succeeds. Most importantly, the film doesn't take itself too seriously. Lines like, "Bi-curious? Honey, I'm a little bi-furious" wouldn't work in a lot of movies. It's rare that a film is just such a good time.

3/4 stars

"Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" is playing at the Lyric from Oct. 8 to Oct. 14.

(Side note: Cera battles Mae Whitman, who played Ann Veal on "Arrested Development." Anyone that knows the series will chuckle at George Michael finally getting some closure.)

Comments (4)

Edgar Wright directed this movie, not Simon Pegg. Edgar and Simon worked together on SOTD and HF, but Simon is the writer/actor, Edgar is the director.

FFS | October 9, 2010 5:49 PM

Thank you for the correction!

Tauhid Chappell | October 10, 2010 11:35 AM

Hi Guys

i wanna rent out a movie but its a blu-ray one....i actually don't have a blu ray player though....should it still work??

Thank you !

Red Movie Review | January 31, 2011 12:41 PM

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CarolynCHAPMAN28 | April 6, 2011 2:11 PM