Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Edgar Wright, You Are King in a Land of Paupers


Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

By Robert Patrick

The fabric of this world is threaded with neon colors and warbling sounds. I don’t think there’s one second where something creative isn’t jostling the screen, shaking loose any sort of preconceptions about the structure of movies, then planting itself down with sonic reverberation. Edgar Wright owns this story. No one could have been better at bringing “Scott Pilgrim” to the screen. Comic-book font slithers across the frame when the phone rings! The camera swooshes, glides, spins in a sort of freewheeling ecstasy! There is a kaleidoscope of swinging fists and wall-inverting power-punches! There is….okay, I need to catch my breath. Scott Pilgrim stretches the level of joy that can be had in a theater experience. There is that little kid, in the recesses of every person’s mind, that wants to use his buttery fingers to shovel so much popcorn into his mouth that his jaw dislocates itself like a python just to accommodate the stuff. Edgar Wright’s newest movie makes you want to become that kid, embrace the gluttony of cinema adolescence, then widen your eyes to the point of strain. There may be other movies that are more existential and deeply moving this year, but Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is content on ploughing through your mind and doing a guitar solo inside your Temporal lobe.

To say too much about this movie will be injustice, even if you have seen the comic or feel that you’ve properly introduced yourself to the frazzled world of Scott Pilgrim and his reckless mop of hair. I’m sure commercials have inundated many people’s televisions, splashing them with distorted riffs and sharpened one-liners, but you should repress all of that and go see the movie with a fresh slate. There’s nothing like watching this thing and not having had been subjected to forty-seven trailers and three-hundred reviews from critics (Oh God, I’m one of those jerks). In fact, I’m not going to even adequately explain anything particular about the contents of the movie. You’re not going to hear me cull the best bits from the movie with a salivating maw – although it deserves the treatment. All I will say is that our protagonist Scott Pilgrim (his name’s in the title, it’s not quite a spoiler) longs for a girl in such a way that it makes Shakespeare’s Romeo look like a trite hack in comparison. The guy fights (literally) for her love using every method possible. Bad guys are knocked through the air so hard that I’m pretty sure the oxygen itself gets a shiner. A Phantasmagoria of clever editing, dynamic and well-timed humor, and the finger-jousting of the strings on a bass-guitar are only a nominal reason of why Pilgrim reigns supreme.

So yeah, synopsis is not something that is going to happen here. I’d rather just pounce on the glorious visuals and immense comic timing that this movie contains. I’ll also say that, even if you don’t like the meek and slender-faced Michael Cera, he’s incredibly likable in his role. I don’t think another actor could have played the “woe-is-me” and “not again” shtick as effortlessly as the everyman Cera. The tiny frame and stuttering uncertainty is a perfect compass against the whirling insanity that Pilgrim is plugged into. Every player in this film, in fact, is appropriate and devastatingly good. Winstead plays the crass, mildly stoic, Ramona Flowers with the pointed sleekness of a razor-blade. And Ellen Wong, who plays Knives Chau, is excellent at spinning in circles and kicking up her heels in manic glee. The unhinged servitude to Scott is full of demented saccharine.

If there’s one film you see, be it at any age, it should be “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World”. Whether you have the calloused thumbs of a page-turning comic book geek or you’re a button-mashing gamer, this advice works especially well for you. Did I mention that Kieran Culkin is amazing in this movie? Did I mention that amps get blown out and drum kits get carpet bombed by sticks? Oh man, are you going to love this thing.


Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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