When Scott Pilgrim vs The World first released in theatres 7 years ago, I was indifferent. As a fan of Bryan Lee O’Malley graphic novels, I had pretty high expectations. After the first time I watched it, I wasn’t keen on it. I was on the fence. As the years go on though, it just seems to get better. It’s like a fine wine……. you know…… if that wine tasted like video games & comic books. My daughter and I sat down to watch it on Netflix the other night and she was enamoured. Her eyes were glued to the screen through the entire thing. This just made me love it even more. The only downside to it though is the runtime, it feels really rushed for 2hrs. It stays true to the main storyline from the books, but a lot of the humour and gaming nods get lost so it can stay focused. Trying to fit 6 books worth of content into that time frame is insane. It’s like the opposite of the film version of The Hobbit. Those guys had TOO much time for ONE book (money hungry bastards).
The film begins with Scott (Michael Cera) who’s 22 years old (and awesome), having recently started dating a high schooler, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). His Sex Bob-Ombs bandmates Kim (Allison Pill), Steven (Mark Webber), & Young Neil (Johnny Simmons) have mixed feelings on the relationship. So long as it doesn’t effect their arrangement, it’s not that big of a deal. Things get a little more complicated though when Scott falls for an Amazon.ca delivery girl, Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Not only does he have to break up with Knives, but in order to be with Ramona, Scott has to defeat her 7 evil ex boyfriends. The line-up includes Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha), Lucas Lee (Chris Evans), Todd (Brandon Routh), Roxanne “Ramona had a sexy phase” Richter (Mae Whitman), The Katayanagi Twins (Shota & Keita Saito), and the mastermind behind the League of Evil Exes, Gideon (Jason Schwartzman). Unfortunately for Scott, his life has just become a video game.
All the performances are great in the film. Other notable roles include Scotts ex, Envy Adams (Brie Larson) & Scotts not so supportive sister, Stacey (Anna Kendrick). The standout for me though will always be Scott’s gay roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin). He nails the character from the books, trying to keep Scott on track (mostly from being a giant asshole) and has some of the best lines in the film.
Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, At World’s End) is one of my favourite directors working today. Watching the action take place on screen is addictive. The entire film is a visual feast for the senses. Whether Scott is going up against Evil Ex #3 Todd and his vegan based psychic powers, or the Sex Bob-Ombs are summoning a giant yeti to fight against The Katayanagi Twins double dragons during a battle of the bands, it all looks fantastic. All the fights are well choreographed and interesting. Each new set piece brings with it all kinds of crazy effects and cool easter eggs. The Legend of Zelda theme playing when Scott goes to the bathroom (with depleting pee bar floating behind him), the K.O sound from Street Fighter, defeated enemies turning into coins/loot, comic book sound effects popping up on screen, it’s all there. It’s a shame we’ll never get to see what Edgar’s version of Ant-Man would have been like.
While the runtime is short, considering how much story was packed into the books, Edgar Wright nailed the feel of Scott Pilgrim. You’re literally watching a video game/comic book come to life, and it’s wonderful. You can tell he really appreciated the material, and it shows. His next film Baby Driver, in theatres June 28th, looks to have that same kinetic energy we’ve come to expect from him. I can’t wait to check it out. Now that my daughter loves Scott Pilgrim (and wants to read all the novels now), I think it’s going to become a regular viewing experience in the household. I have a much bigger appreciation for it now then I ever had before. Dear Hollywood/Moviegoers: Let’s support more inventive movies like this in the future. – NVJ