An unrelenting torrent of affectionate but biting music-scene satire, old-school Nintendo references, and cartoony depictions of post-adolescent love, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a delight. It will probably have its greatest success with folks who’ve actually gone to overhyped basement shows or played Mortal Kombat, but it could still capture the heart...read more
An unrelenting torrent of affectionate but biting music-scene satire, old-school Nintendo references, and cartoony depictions of post-adolescent love, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a delight. It will probably have its greatest success with folks who’ve actually gone to overhyped basement shows or played Mortal Kombat, but it could still capture the heart of anyone who’s had a relationship in their early twenties -- or at least who appreciates a movie with style.
The story begins with the titular 23-year-old slacker hero (played by Michael Cera), who divides his time between playing bass guitar for a Toronto band called Sex Bob-omb and entertaining the G-rated adoration of a Chinese high-schooler named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). Scott’s relationship with the studious teenager is simple: she worships him. The fact that it would be inappropriate to so much as kiss her matters little to Scott in light of the fact that Knives heaps adulation on his every move. She’s way too young to notice that his one-liners are stale, his band is mediocre, and his bandmates and friends are all completely on to his game.
But Scott’s world implodes when he meets the mysterious Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), an aloof delivery girl for Amazon.ca, who makes her rounds through the snowy streets on a pair of all-weather rollerblades. Ramona is unimpressed with Scott’s half-hearted antics, and thus lays down the archetypal gauntlet for our romantic hero, challenging him to better himself, and thereby proving herself to be his soul mate.
The only catch is that the gauntlet Ramona lays down is also a literal one. Because in the semi-fantastical (and very tongue-in-cheek) universe where the story takes place, crappy guitarists can wield amazing superpowers, and battles to the death can erupt at a local battles of the bands. And so we learn that Scott will himself have to engage his ninja skills and fight -- nay, defeat -- all of Ramona’s seven evil exes if he wants to date her. Oh, and he’ll have to grow up, learn to commit, put his heart on the line, and be a little bit less of a loser -- but that all goes without saying.
Based on the beloved graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley, the movie reverently lives up to the book’s hyperactive mix of influences, paying constant tribute to anime, sitcoms, early-’90s video games, punk rock, hipster culture, and a host of other influences. The movement is frantic, even when there isn’t an expertly choreographed fight sequence going on, and the barrage of dialogue, action, and imagery lifted frame for frame out of the comic could spell a headache for the faint of heart. But for the resilient, the movie is nothing less than a total blast from beginning to end.
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