Scott Pilgrim Vs. the Wold is director Edgar Wright’s unheralded adaptation of a celebrated series of graphic novels. Wright is typically known for his brilliant zom-rom-com Shaun of the Dead or his action themed Hot Fuzz but Scott Pilgrim represents a true departure in filmmaking for him, or for the medium as a whole.
The movie is, in many ways, a simple love story. Geeky Scott Pilgrim feels like he’s finally found the girl of his dreams when he meets Ramona Flowers, but matters are complicated when Scott must face her seven evil exes in order to win her heart. The premise sounds a little thin, but it’s all about in the presentation when it comes to this story. Wright’s mix-mash of mixed media is what sells the film for me. I mean, sure the story’s got heart the way that Wright tells it, but there’s something so captivating about the truly visual aspects of the film. But what’s most captivating about the film is that in a day and age where people are constantly being asked to choose between style and substance, Scott Pilgrim finds a way to offer up both.
Wright’s latest movie is easily his flashiest, but that shouldn’t detract from the movie’s innocence and its numerous influences. if forced to describe the look and feel of the movie, the obvious video game comparisons is one of the most notable, but there’s also a hint of 80s glam rock meets the aggressive sensibilities of American hardcore in its visual style. It sounds like the two influences would constantly be competing with each other, especially when they’re intensely heightened for fight sequences, but something about the two contrasting forces working together to create an overwhelming world is so fitting. But the influences don’t begin and end with the SNES-style, as some casual critics might have you believe. Each ex is a unique experience, with a number of different elements in play ranging from music to mannerisms. The most obvious style is, surprisingly enough, paired with one of the most forgettable exes, Matthew Patel. The Bollywood influence in this character’s performance and fighting style is a bit obvious at times, but visually stunning and equally engaging. It’s outside influences such as this that make Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World such a fitting title.
But at the heart of the movie is a scared young, Scott Pilgrim himself. Having never read the original graphic novels, for which I willingly lose indie credibility and hipster points, it’s difficult to say what the appeal of Pilgrim is. Is it that he’s a fanboy that readers/movie-goers can relate to? Is it that guys like that never seem to get the girl? It’s hard to say, but I can’t help but think that geek culture plays into it somehow. Still, what’s most shocking is that, even though I enjoyed the movie, I was never sure if I wanted Scott to get the girl. I mean, after all, he’d let several good ones get away before Ramona and honestly, the way he carried on, he’s not a terribly likable personality. Full disclosure, it could be Michael Cera and my irrational disdain for him post-George Michael, but I’m not even sure that was it. Whatever it is, Scott’s quest is entertaining, even if I wasn’t in love with the character of Scott.
See, Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World is one of those rare instances where most of the enjoyment I receive from watching the movie stems from the supporting cast, more than the main players. But then again, if you look at the cast, it’s not hard to see why. It’s filled with a talented group of actors and actresses. Kieran Culkin’s turn as Wallace Wells, Scott’s roommate, is easily one of the most memorable side characters that I’ve come across in recent movies. All of these amazing cast members work towards putting together a solid movie. In fact, my only real complaint about the movie is that there are times when I was overwhelmed by the supporting cast. Each serves their own purpose in propelling the movie from start to finish, but with so many of them, I wanted more than the 5 or 10 minutes Wright could afford them. Regardless, it’s never too much of a distraction and I recognize that practically speaking, it doesn’t make sense to keep some of these characters around for much longer than that, but it’s just another instance of Scott Pilgrim‘s undeniable charm.
What ends up being most compelling about Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World isn’t its story as much as its storytelling. It has fun with itself, never seeming to take itself too seriously. Instead, it embraces the characters put forth by the graphic novel and extending them into Edgar Wright’s technicolor dreamland. With Wright’s vision and armed with a cast of talented actors and actresses, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is an unforgettable escape into a new world of first love and fist fights.