Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuss) sets himself a difficult task with his latest project. In an age where comic book adaptations adorn our screens at every turn, the honeymoon period is quickly coming to an end. Kick-Ass tried to do the very same, injecting hipster sensibilities into the preexisting formula, failing early on to carve a substantial niche for itself. But in the mysterious wilds of Toronto, practically anything is possible.

Drawing from the pulsating series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is the jilted bass guitarist of Sex Bob-omb, a group in need of a break. Still cradling his childhood and the memory of the one girl to ever break his heart, Scott begins seeing 17 year old Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). In the year since his last serious relationship ended he’s left a trail of romantic destruction in his wake. The introduction of Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is no different, causing him to yet again lose interest in his current paramour, falling instantly and irrevocably in love. Unfortunately her 7 evil exes aren’t too enthusiastic about the new pairing.

Where Kick-Ass employed tired conventions of teenage angst and hyper-realistic violence without recourse, here multiple elements across as many unlikely genres create a vivid and other-worldly quality. The very nature of these additions form an altogether frantic pacing, initially overloading the senses before enveloping all who come before it. Minor issues exist in the moments left simply to the characters, jarring in their deprivation of background stimuli and an ending lacking in simplicity.
Wright deftly juggles a form of smug indifference and self-awareness, forming a world where in spite of their faults the residents are unquestionably likeable. Rather than simply conforming to the given stereotypes of modern youth they revel in it. Acknowledging their failings with equanimous foresight and celebrating the very same, adds simple and effective depth to the proceedings overall.

Cera, having proved himself to be an unlikely but enigmatic lead in Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist essentially channels the same abilities. He may appear to be passive but rarely is he less than formidable. The remaining cast fit comfortably around him, never falling into the background nor overshadowing him.
Where the roles do not feel like the most comfortable of fits are the exes themselves. Entertaining to a point, each are insubstantial in the threat they pose. With every sequence the action increases exponentially yet it is the opponents themselves that dull them even if it’s for the briefest of moments. Such shifts assuage much of the damage yet they continue to exist.

Never overstepping its bounds, Scott Pilgrim manages to subvert a genre in need of change, a fact that studios should consider with any future projects.

  1. Enjoyed Scott Pilgrim too and Cera was perfectly cast, although I have to admit I was more entertained by Kick-Ass. For me the first hour flew by, but the second half dragged a bit. I thought some of the jokes got a bit wearisome.

      • thejackanory
      • September 3rd, 2010

      I do agree with you on that, some of the jokes were so similar in application that after a while they at least lost their impact if not getting slightly irritating. For me, that was just a small thing considering it made me like characters who otherwise might just be stereotypes. And at least most of the time they were mocking themselves.

      With Kick-Ass, a lot of people disagreed with my review, I’ve watched it since and still feel the same way but sure that’s just me – can understand why it worked for some.

  2. “where in spite of their faults the residents are unquestionably likeable”

    I found the main characters deeply unlikable. Pilgrim pretty much treated Knives like trash, and ye were are supposed to root for him. In fact it was their unlikeableness (for want of a better word) that was one of my reasons for not liking this film.

      • thejackanory
      • September 5th, 2010

      They definitely do live in a perpetual state of idealized adolescence but the fact that they are self-aware and able to mock themselves really does make them far better than the characters in Kick-Ass who simply thought they were better than they were and nothing more.

      As for Knives, Scott could definitely have been more understanding but he did realise how badly he’d acted towards her and in a lot of ways she misread the situation, refusing to accept what had happened. He definitely could have been better about the whole thing but he at least acknowledge what an asshole he had been.

      At ,east we can agree that Kick-Ass was subpar.

  3. Haven’t seen Scott pilgrim, it never really spiked my interest. Curiously enough the only edition of my Empire subscription that never showed up was the Scott Pilgrim edition, so maybe I’ll see something in there that will change my mind when they send out my replacement. Not sure it’s my sup of tea though. If it’s anything like Kick-ass, I think ‘d rather have milkshake.

      • thejackanory
      • September 21st, 2010

      You hated Kick Ass too? It might be worth looking into, I’m not much of a video game geek (platformers and RPGs as a kid) but the way they work those elements in is pretty astounding. Definitely not without its faults, but the sum of its parts makes up for that in my mind anyway

  1. September 3rd, 2010

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