Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is essentially a love story, one piled high with style and energy to the point that its primary subject sometimes becomes lost beneath the layers of flashing colors and kinetic duels. Culling from everything lauded for its pop culture “coolness”, Pilgrim mixes comic books, martial arts, slow motion, special effects, rock music, cursing, overt sexuality, swordfights, and more to create a world much like a video game, complete with extra lives, power-ups, and points awarded for victories. Surprisingly, the sum of its parts doesn’t equal an awesomeness equivalent to the levels of entertainment each component would normally produce, likely due to a general incompatibility in the content, yet the creativity and cleverness of the parable still leaves one better for the experience. Relationships are rarely simple, and Scott Pilgrim proves with stylistic relish that anything worth having must be fought to the death for with whips and hammers.
Having had his heart broken a year ago, 22-year-old Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) begins dating high-schooler Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), much to the dismay of his sister Stacey (Anna Kendrick) and his roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin). Her patronage to Pilgrim’s rock band “Sex Bob-omb” gains her acceptance by overly anxious singer/guitarist Stephen (Mark Webber), pessimistic drummer Kim (Alison Pill), and enthusiastic back-up bassist Young Neil (Johnny Simmons). When Scott encounters the literal “girl of his dreams”, mysterious Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), his instant attraction to the illusive girl finds him rejecting Chau to begin dating his newfound obsession. But Scott soon discovers the complexities of love, and the perilous nature of his newest romance, when he learns that he must first defeat Ramona’s seven evil exes if he wishes to continue courting the neon-headed beauty.
Is the editing in a movie enough to impress audiences? Scott Pilgrim vs. the World proves that in rare instances, it is. This film features so many visual gimmicks that even though the plot sounds repetitive, the random, outlandish special effects keep things fresh. With video game sound effects, corporeal words forming like clouds above characters, split screens, pop-up information cards (like VH1’s Pop-Up Videos), bizarre scene transitions, animation, cartoonish anime fighting, a Seinfeld laugh-track, enemies pixellating and dropping coins when defeated, and much, much more, repetition is never an issue. In fact, the editing is so uniquely clever that it garners the majority of the laughs – the humorous extra effects dancing on the screen are oftentimes funnier than the dialogue.
So much of Pilgrim is completely nonsensical, bringing new meaning to the notion of a live action video game movie. It never bothers to explain the boundaries or restrictions in this world where characters break out into song and dance just to provide a never-ending soundtrack, superpowers are earned and lost based on vegan eating habits, and gravity jumps in and out of existence. Just like a video game, where the player doesn’t need to know martial arts to control their character in the ways of master fighters, this film doesn’t need to define what is real or what is possible for the activities to make sense. It’s a perfectly logical, straightforward romance surrounded by the unexplainably absurd. While it runs a little too long, everything is steadily entertaining, light-hearted and amusing, never getting tiresome and gradually growing to a fortuitous satisfaction.
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)