Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: A Review

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – Dir: Edgar Wright; *ing: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Ellen Wong, Chris Evans, Allison Pill, Brandon Routh

“You just headbutted my boyfriend so hard that he burst!”

“Well, you kicked my heart in the ass, so I guess we’re even.”

It’s time yet again to reference some trusty cinematic punching bags; you know, those celluloid doggy deposits – yes, I’m looking at you, Transformers II: Rise Of The Who-Gives-A-Flying-Fudge-If-This-Makes-Less-Sense-Than-Sardine-Ice-cream – that inexplicably devour the box-office even as they flip a bird to all standards of quality, while genuinely interesting and innovative films get flushed down the tubes, ignored by a seemingly cerebrally-challenged audience of neanderthals fattened on a diet of Jackass-Meets-The-Hilton-Sisters, who couldn’t recognise the word ‘stupid’ unless you held up a mirror to their face as a hint. And as usual, this must be brought up because, yet again, said American movie-going audience has taken a giant figurative dump on the head of what is probably one of the most exciting and endlessly inventive movies to have come along in the past ten years. And in case you missed the headline, no, I’m not talking about Inception. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World had a fair amount of buzz as an autumn release but barely managed to elicit a squeak at the b-o, despite being the film that single-handedly re-invents (okay, re-configures) the language of modern cinema. It’s the 2001: A Space Odyssey for the ADD generation, an eye-popping, nerve-boggling epic of nerd-tastic proportions that appeals simultaneously to the geek and the romantic in all of us. All of us with a slight affinity for filmic derangement that is.

Based on the cult comic book series by Brian O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim’s is a world where 98-pound-weakling types potentially CAN have it all; where the hot guys are evil jerks and the lovable geek eventually ends up with the girl of his dreams. There is just the small matter of defeating her seven evil exes in battle though. Which is what scraggly-haired, girly-voiced dork Scott (Cera) must do if he is to be with chameleon-haired Ramona (Winstead), with the list of her former loves including a narcissistic Cruise-esque movie star (“Big fan,” gushes Scott’s roommate to the actor, “Why wouldn’t you be?” his raspy reply), and a platinum blond rocker with super villain mojo powered by the purity of veganism (“I partake not in the meat, nor the breast-milk, nor the ovum, of any creature, with a face”). And all the while trying to keep up with his duties as bassist with his on-the-verge band (“We are Sex Bob-Omb and we are here to make you think about death and get sad and stuff”).

Director Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) ratchets up the kinetic energy of his previous work to new levels here, breaking beyond the boundaries of conventional filmmaking with startling, breakneck visual flourishes that are an amalgam of videogames, manga and (naturally) comic-book verve. The fight sequences are accompanied by on-screen word-sound texts (“THONK!”), Scott’s opponents burst into a shower of points-carrying coins when he K.O-es them, oversized weapons appear out of nowhere, villains emit lightning and use their keyboards to conjure up floating musical monsters – Watchmen eat your heart out!

All of which might have amounted to a lot of sound and fury etc. were it not for the film’s squarely mushy heart. For amidst all the jagged edges, the slashes of stylistic mania, the relentless nods and winks to videogame aesthetic, lies an emotional core that cleverly keeps the narrative grounded. At the end of it, Scott Pilgrim is really about the vagaries of romance, the agony and the ecstasy of being in love, and, yes, getting dumped too. Cera reprises his dork persona for the umpteenth time, but really, no one does it better, and his surrounding ensemble is ace too; the direction is fierce, the writing flawless.

So if you’re a gamer or feeling adventurous, give it a whirl; one can guarantee it’ll have you grinning like a tween-ager watching a Twilight movie.

“We are Sex Bob-Omb! And we’re here to watch Scott Pilgrim kick your teeth in! One-two-three-four!”

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