Scott Pilgrim is your average everyday overeducated, underachieving, undersexed but overly pure, young adult in the suburbs of Toronto, Canada. Suffering from the loss of a girlfriend who left him for a rising career as a pop diva, he plays bass in a band with an aspiring guitarist and a cynical drummer. He dates an “underaged” 17 year old Asian girl, named Knives, which his friends disapprove of but who is crazy for him. When Scott goes to a party, he soon meets the girl of his dreams (literally), Ramona Flowers. He cheats on Knives and falls for Ramona deeper and deeper. As the sins of his action confront him, he eventually realizes that he must face the troubles he has made to become the better man that can win Ramona’s heart.
Oh, there’s also a gay roommate. Ninja simulators too. Swordfights get in there somewhere. Vegans, laugh tracks, a league of evil, boss fights, extreme sports, level ups, rock battles, a third-party narrator, and more visual expletives than three rescreenings of Adam West’s Batman movie are all things that also get thrown in. In short, everything you would expect from your typical romance film.
Scott Pilgrim’s major plotline is remarkably simple because that’s the point. Built around a plot structure of clichés and pop culture, the intention of Scott Pilgrim Versus the World is to be a modern-day fantasy tale told through hipster-tinted glasses. References litter the storyline of decade-old suburban kitsch, from the 16-bit blips of Legend of Zelda to the trademark “You’ve got mail” from AOL to the shamelessly obvious Coke Zero plugs. When the background noise doesn’t try to replicate a video game soundtrack, it reminds us of an alt-rock tone you’d hear somewhere in a local dive on a Friday night. This is the sort of film that thrives in metahumor, but doesn’t make it its sole appeal, as every type of joke gets thrown in between subtle gestures and slapstick.
Most remarkable about the film are the fight scenes. The concept of the film is centered around battles with superpowered exes that Scott must face before winning the hand of his love, and these scenes are fantastically choreographed and animated in a way that makes “over-the-top” the main agenda. The graphic novels that this movie was inspired on placed the fights into references of video games, from Street Fighter to Kung Fu (if you remember that old game, you definitely deserve props), and while the movie cannot seem to make this transition perfectly—perhaps a good thing considering how many successful video game movies actually exist—it is a thrill to watch Scott take on these outlandishly evil villains who spout one-liners as they throw everything but the kitchen sink into their themes.
I mentioned graphic novels and I should add that yes, Scott Pilgrim is based off a comic series. No, I have not read them but you can see a lot of reference to the written script through the way the story is presented through panels, animated flashbacks, or even just pop-ups that come out like an episode of Blind Date. There was a lot of attention that was made into this transition and I can definitely say it did not detract from the film, although you may need to be a fast reader if you want to get all the jokes. There is one caveat I should mention and it is a very noteworthy one with regards to this transition: the two genres of action and romance aren’t a totally successful transition, and those who were allured into the film expecting an action film will be disappointed for the first ten to twenty minutes while the romantic watcher may find themselves bored at the intervals between the relationships. The comedy in the film definitely soothes over the groove of two very solid but otherwise uneasy matchups, but it’s not something I would consider all-too-successful in its attempt.
All-in-all, Scott Pilgrim Versus the World is the perfect film for anyone who watches Family Guy or Robot Chicken and wants to see a lot of crazy stunts along the way. It may also be the perfect film for someone who reads romance manga at the local comic shop and wants to enjoy a nice love story. It’s not perfect, but it’s a very noteworthy attempt I would play again.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World receives a PARL
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