Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World

Bryan Hickman

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Photo credit: Universal Studios

“Scott Pilrim vs. the world” is odd yet good Photo credit: Universal Studios

According to Bryan Lee O’Malley, this place is not a high school in Ventura. This place is Toronto, Canada.

“Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World” is a cinematic adaptation of O’Malley’s series of comic books about a 22 year-old man-child, played by Michael Cera, who meets the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Unfortunately for Scott, Ramona’s previous romantic partners are none too pleased about the idea of Ramona seeing someone else, so naturally they form a “League of Evil Exes” in an attempt to control the future of Ramona’s love life. Scott must successfully defeat Ramona’s seven evil exes if they are to date, a task that Scott begrudgingly accepts.

The film is directed by Edgar Wright, the director of the British films “Shaun of the Dead”, a parody and loving homage to the zombie genre; “Hot Fuzz”, a parody and loving homage to the buddy-cop and action genres, and now “Scott Pilgrim”. Wright has weaved his way into the same category as Quentin Tarantino: directors whose movies are an amalgamation of other pieces of pop-culture in an attempt to make something original.

“Scott Pilgrim” borrows heavily from comic book graphics, anime and video games. The battles bring to mind arcade games like Tekken and Street Fighter (brilliantly shot by cinematographer Bill Pope who has worked on The Matrix and Spider-Man franchises). The name of Scott’s fictional band is a reference to the Super Mario games, and Scott’s go-to conversation starter is about the origins of the game Pac-Man. Scott plays a Dance, Dance, Revolution-like game, he wears a Guitar Hero t-shirt and opposing bands are named after bad 1980’s era video games.

Chris Evans, former Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movies and future Captain America, plays one of the evil exes. Brandon Routh, former Superman in the most recent live-action movie, also plays a Dragon Ball Z-esque evil ex.

And while the film gets the feel of video games and comic books down well, what the film truly excels at is its characterization of Generation Z, or the kids of the Technology Age, or whatever they’re calling the kids nowadays. Sure, the characters send out mass-texts and hang out in coffee shops, but what the film does best is nailing down what our defining cultural attribute has been: apathy.

The characters are comically self-involved and self-motivated, and whenever a Scott engages in what is clearly a battle to the death the response from the spectators, including his closest friends, is a resounding “Meh.” When evil exes are defeated and turned into coins the response is not an appropriate measure of sadness or guilt, it’s “Oh look, coins!” Scott is only ever interested in listening to what other people are saying if what they are saying is “Scott Pilgrim is awesome.” No one in Scott Pilgrim’s world cares about anything if it does not affect them, everything is intrinsically motivated.

The film has been advertised as a modern love story, and it does have elements of that in it, but it is primarily a cultural critique. Scott Pilgrim is a visual treat with impressive visual effects and fantastic fight scenes. If you go for the sights and sounds, you will be even further impressed to find that it is more than heart-pumping and exciting, it is a film with a brain too.

What do you think?