SCOTT PILGRIM vs. THE WORLD Family Movie Review

scott pilgrim

By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)

WHAT’S SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD ABOUT?

A geek must battle his girlfriend’s exes for her heart. Literally battles them.

IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: B)

Director Edgar Wright has directed and co-written two of my all-time favorite comedies, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. The appeal of his work lies in both the originality of his direction (even the film editing is funny) and in the sharpness of his screenplays. His latest, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, represents a step up for Wright as a director, but sadly, it’s also a step down for him as a screenwriter. In terms of visuals and sound, Scott Pilgrim is one of the most creative films of the past decade, and I don’t mean merely in a “Wow, that CGI looks cool!” kind of way. The film-making itself is endlessly inventive as Wright blends the styles of comic books, video games, and rock n’roll into a charming love letter to geek culture.

Michael Cera (Arrested Development, Juno) successfully stretches a bit beyond playing the affable, clueless nice guy role he’s made a career out of. Those elements are still there, but so is an edge of selfishness and, ultimately, growth. What’s more, he impresses with speed, flexibility, and coordination in the film’s many fight scenes. He also really plays the guitar in the musical scenes, impressively shredding it up.
The plot, as it is, finds amateur guitarist Scott Pilgrim having to battle the “seven evil exes” of his new girlfriend, who is quite literally the girl of his dreams (played by Live Free or Die Hard‘s Mary Elizabeth Winstead). In the mix are a gay roommate, an Asian high-school girlfriend (one of the film’s highlights), a movie star (Captain America‘s Chris Evans), a super-powered Vegan (Superman Returns‘ Brandon Routh), a trail of broken hearts, and a battle of the bands. It’s fun stuff, but a film this intentionally silly needs two things to blossom: more laughs and a shorter running time. Scott Pilgrim clocks in at nearly two hours; it should be about 20 minutes shorter, and the pacing lags in spots.

The plot, as it is, finds amateur guitarist Scott Pilgrim having to battle the “seven evil exes” of his new girlfriend, who is quite literally the girl of his dreams (played by Live Free or Die Hard‘s Mary Elizabeth Winstead). In the mix are a gay roommate, an Asian high-school girlfriend (one of the film’s highlights), a movie star (Captain America‘s Chris Evans), a super-powered Vegan (Superman Returns‘ Brandon Routh), a trail of broken hearts, and a battle of the bands. It’s fun stuff, but a film this intentionally silly needs two things to blossom: more laughs and a shorter running time. Scott Pilgrim clocks in at nearly two hours; it should be about 20 minutes shorter, and the pacing lags in spots.

What’s more, while the film is quite funny, it is neither as clever nor as packed with humor as Wright’s previous movies. Too many jokes fall flat, perhaps because too many revolve around Scott’s roommate and his sex life. I have no problem with sympathetic portrayals of LGBT characters, but the character isn’t well-rounded. His sexuality gradually becomes his only defining characteristic. Also, Scott’s relationship with the female lead goes from zero-chemistry awkwardness to physical intimacy without any transition in between. I know the film wasn’t striving for realism, but even by movie standards, that was a stretch. Though there is entertainment and ingenuity to be found in Scott Pilgrim vs the World, there are also some flaws and, depending on your tastes, potentially offensive content.

As far as “guy fights for the girl” flicks go, after Scott Pilgrim try Nacho Libre!

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