Theatrical review: Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Does Edgar Wright’s winning streak continue?

Released: Out now

Certificate: 15

Director: Edgar Wright

Screenwriter: Michael Baccall, Edgar Wright

Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans

Distributor: Universal

Running Time: 112 mins

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is simultaneously an irritating and endearing movie – for every videogame fan that squeals at the idea that Scott’s enemies explode with coins after being defeated, there’ll be a moviegoer chucking popcorn at the screen, declaring that youth is forever lost to idiocy. The film doesn’t claim to be anything more than a bit of fun, but at the same time, the intentional videogame-like boss rush structure and one-dimensional premise is sure to polarise viewers. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World sees the titular character (played by Cera), a loser 22-year-old, trying to win over the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers (Winstead). To do this, Scott has to defeat her seven evil exes, a league of maniacs ranging from a gloriously self-involved film star (Chris Evans) to a ninja assassin from Ramona’s ‘sexy’ phase (Mae Whitman).

That’s pretty much it, for the plot, which follows the books closely, if not religiously. It’s mainly let down by its two leads. Cera is fine, but this is yet another role in which we’re seeing a variant on his socially awkward Superbad shtick, while Winstead, playing a grumpy Ramona who looks pretty but seems devoid of other redeeming qualities, doesn’t come across as a woman worth fighting for.

The movie has a decent share of funny moments, thanks to a solid script and the likes of Evans and Superman Returns’ Brandon Routh, both of whom play exes so wrapped up in their own arrogance that they fail to notice how stupid they actually are. Kieran Culkin is superb as Scott’s sarcastic, gay roommate Wallace Wells and a cameo by Thomas Jane, as a member of the vegan police, also makes for one of the better moments.
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is stylish, certainly, though it’ll be down to the viewer to decide whether featuring the start menu music from Zelda adds much to the movie. Some of the touches that work in graphic novel form jar on the big screen, such as the pointless idea of Scott getting an extra life and the pixellated form of it appearing next to his head. By the final third, the evil exes premise runs out of steam as well, meaning that references are the only reason to stick around.

Then again, this is a movie that preaches squarely to the converted. Scott Pilgrim is a romance story through a SNES filter, built to serve the audience that made Bryan Lee O’Malley’s series such a hit. This is a movie that only tries to speak to a certain audience – it’s hard to hold anything against Scott Pilgrim for that.

A one-dimensional but amusing sugar rush of a movie, buoyed by great performances from Brandon Routh, Chris Evans and Kieran Culkin.