Movies

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World featured image

Reviewed by Marc Glassman

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Edgar Wright, director & co-script w/Michael Bacall based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels
Starring: Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Ramona Flowers), Kieran Culkin (Wallace Wells), Ellen Wong (Knives Chau), Alison Pill (Kim Pine), Jason Schwartzman (Gideon Gordon Graves), Mark Webber (Stephen Stills), Johnny Simmons (Young Neil), Anna Kendrick (Stacey Pilgrim), Aubrey Plaza (Julie Powers)

Remember Maxwell Smart, the smartest dumb spy in the world, and his shtick, the queries “would you believe,” which would always move from almost acceptable to completely absurd?

Well, would you believe that a series of Canadian commix—or should I say, graphic novels—about a nerd kid named Scott Pilgrim would become cult classics? Ok—would you believe that they would be made into a multi-million dollar “epic” movie? Would you believe that it would highlight Toronto landmarks of ancient (Casa Loma) and modern (Lee’s Palace) vintage and make them charming and exotic? And would you believe that the movie would have all the energy and anarchical spirit of the original com—oops, graphic novels and become a summer hit?

Because that’s what’s happening with Scott Pilgrim—and Toronto, you better watch out: you’re about to become a star.

Already a star is director Edgar Wright’s choice for Scott Pilgrim, Michael Cera. The kid from Brampton has made a name for himself as a comically ineffectual lead on the TV favourite Arrested Development, enhanced it in the teen comedy Superbad and as the “ballsy” boyfriend in the Ellen Page hit Juno and Jack Black’s prehistoric buddy in Year Zero and now has kicked it up another level as young Mr. Pilgrim.

No longer just a shy guy—remember when J.K. Simmons as Juno’s dad remarks “didn’t know he had it in him” when he finds out who impregnated his daughter?—Cera now can fight for his girlfriend. And fight he does, with all the power of a Ninja warrior let loose out of a video game, for the hand (or at least that’s what my generation called it) of the lovely Ramona Flowers, a New Yorker with a mysterious past.

Just like Hercules, Scott has to undergo seven labours; in his case, it’s defeating Ramona’s League of Evil Seven Exes. Among them are a mystical vegan bass player, twin brother techno-pop musicians, a steroid enhanced Hollywood “B” action hero, a hyped up martial arts girlfriend (Ramona’s lesbian phase) and a god-like conspiratorial rock entrepreneur.

Before Ramona, Scott was a typical Toronto 20-something slacker, with a 17-year-old Asian-Canadian girlfriend named “Knives,” a gay roommate named Wallace Wells and a rock band named Sex Bob-omb. All of these bits of plot and backstory are laid out in a rapid-paced style, the screen littered with comic book exclamations (Pah! Owww!), written asides and often animated with cartoony images from Toronto artist (and Pilgrim originator) Bryan Lee O’Malley.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is late adolescence writ large, complete with crazy exaggerated humour, romance, action, rock music and hints of wild sex happening just around the corner. It’s repetitive, lacks coherence and is filled with astonishing big scenes. Yep, just like your youth. Nietzsche be damned—enjoy Scott Pilgrim.
Remember Maxwell Smart, the smartest dumb spy in the world, and his shtick, the queries “would you believe,” which would always move from almost acceptable to completely absurd?

Well, would you believe that a series of Canadian commix—or should I say, graphic novels—about a nerd kid named Scott Pilgrim would become cult classics? Ok—would you believe that they would be made into a multi-million dollar “epic” movie? Would you believe that it would highlight Toronto landmarks of ancient (Casa Loma) and modern (Lee’s Palace) vintage and make them charming and exotic? And would you believe that the movie would have all the energy and anarchical spirit of the original com—oops, graphic novels and become a summer hit?

Because that’s what’s happening with Scott Pilgrim—and Toronto, you better watch out: you’re about to become a star.

Already a star is director Edgar Wright’s choice for Scott Pilgrim, Michael Cera. The kid from Brampton has made a name for himself as a comically ineffectual lead on the TV favourite Arrested Development, enhanced it in the teen comedy Superbad and as the “ballsy” boyfriend in the Ellen Page hit Juno and Jack Black’s prehistoric buddy in Year Zero and now has kicked it up another level as young Mr. Pilgrim.

No longer just a shy guy—remember when J.K. Simmons as Juno’s dad remarks “didn’t know he had it in him” when he finds out who impregnated his daughter?—Cera now can fight for his girlfriend. And fight he does, with all the power of a Ninja warrior let loose out of a video game, for the hand (or at least that’s what my generation called it) of the lovely Ramona Flowers, a New Yorker with a mysterious past.

Just like Hercules, Scott has to undergo seven labours; in his case, it’s defeating Ramona’s League of Evil Seven Exes. Among them are a mystical vegan bass player, twin brother techno-pop musicians, a steroid enhanced Hollywood “B” action hero, a hyped up martial arts girlfriend (Ramona’s lesbian phase) and a god-like conspiratorial rock entrepreneur.

Before Ramona, Scott was a typical Toronto 20-something slacker, with a 17-year-old Asian-Canadian girlfriend named “Knives,” a gay roommate named Wallace Wells and a rock band named Sex Bob-omb. All of these bits of plot and backstory are laid out in a rapid-paced style, the screen littered with comic book exclamations (Pah! Owww!), written asides and often animated with cartoony images from Toronto artist (and Pilgrim originator) Bryan Lee O’Malley.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is late adolescence writ large, complete with crazy exaggerated humour, romance, action, rock music and hints of wild sex happening just around the corner. It’s repetitive, lacks coherence and is filled with astonishing big scenes. Yep, just like your youth. Nietzsche be damned—enjoy Scott Pilgrim.

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