The cast/crew bit: directed by Edgar Wright, starring Michael Cera & Mary Elizabeth Winstead
The ten-word synopsis: Geeky bass guitarist must fight potential girlfriends’ seven evil exs.
In the interest of retaining something even vaguely resembling balance, I’d like to begin by just covering what’s wrong with Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, as whenever I begin talking about it usually I either enter gushing praise or, even more worryingly, a line-by-line, by heart, recital of the films’ entire script. The films’ main problem is that, in being what it is, alienates half the potential audience. The way it revels in geeky pop culture references never gets in the way of the films’ simple love story plotline, but if you’re watching this as though it were just a romcom, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. The way Wright (And original creator Bryan Lee O’Marley) litters the film with small references that take eight or nine viewings to pick up perhaps is something that pleased me to no end, but for those who don’t appreciate Zelda sound effects, it may not play as well. Michael Cera also does his usual routine of being a slightly pathetic teenager/young adult, and never looks convincing as a merciless boyfriend-slayer, although I like to see that as being intentional- Scott, a sweet but rather unimposing guy, has been thrown into this mad world of comic book violence and is trying to adapt on the job.
The beauty of the film seems to be in the way that each and every hole I try to pick in it has a logical response. Ramona Flowers is, to put it mildly, a bitch and that’s obvious the moment you walk away from the screen. However, whilst Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s on screen, you can completely see what Scott sees, Winstead playing it with such spunk and energy that you can’t help but go along for the ride. And, besides, is it not a comment on the mistakes that we all make along the way? Scott’s not a very plausible lady-killer. Yeah, but the nature of the character suggests to me that he doesn’t do it for a reputation, in fact, he actively avoids it, the connotations more come from his general inadequacies. Actually, I’d argue the biggest flaw in the film is the fact that Kim Pine (Sensationally played by Alison Pill) doesn’t get more screentime. She is, in my opinion, the best thing in the film, just bringing laughs in abundance upon every appearance. That said, it’s probably for the best that her comic deadpan isn’t overused, same going for simple-minded Young Neil and the sarcastic turns of Scott’s roommate, Wallace Wells, who is noteworthy for being one of few gay characters in the width and breadth of fiction who isn’t defined by his sexuality, being neither camp nor trapped in the eternal pits of despair.
Scott Pilgrim is a rare example of a filmmaker being given the budget and room to do what he likes, and while it may not have done brilliantly at the box-office (The term ‘bombed’ is a little harsh for what was still an above-average run) the critical, and more importantly fan, reaction suggests that the decision was a triumph. Edgar Wright is a personal favourite of mine, and this is undoubtedly his best work. Having worked within the confines of a sitcom setting and budget and then two independent British movies, (One of which even set in a small village in Gloucestershire) seeing him have room to stretch his legs is wonderful- From his previous cannon Spaced is the biggest touchstone, with the kind of visual style and penash he brought to it even more evident than it was in the Channel 4 comedy. He’s a director who leaves a stamp on his work, similar to the likes of Christopher Nolan and his still, panning shots or Wes Andersons’ habit of camera-based face-lingering. Even the opening scene, some people we don’t know having a chat in the kitchen whilst one makes tea, is gripping, and the fight/musical scenes are beautifully choreographed too.
See what I mean? Gushing. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is an utterly wonderful film, one of my very favourites of all-time, and I can’t help but go on about it. By no means is it the best film on the planet, but, if you fit into the hypothetical target-audience plastic wallet Wright has targeted, you can’t help but include it amongst your favourites. And if you’re not the kind of person whose eyes light up at sight of an 8-bit Universal logo, you’d better go and sort your life out, my friend, as there’s nobody who deserves to miss out on the full enjoyment of this wonderful little movie.
9 Sex Bob-Ombs Out of 10