Scott Pilgrim starts off simply enough, a comedy about a bunch of twenty-somethings barely making a living in Toronto. That alone would have been a good enough premise to put into the capable hands of Edgar Wright but Scott Pilgrim is a lot more than a simple comedy.
Our hero, who the film is named after, is bumbling through life and just on the verge of recovery after a brutal break-up with a long-time ex. The final part of his grief is dating a wonderfully named 17-year-old girl, Knives Chau, played by Emily Wong.
The easy relationship is good enough for Scott until Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth-Winstead) skates her way into Scott’s dreams and heart. The two meet, romance blossoms and her seven evil exes want to turn Pilgrim into dust because of it. The only option is to fight back.
Bryan Lee-O’Malley’s comics on which the film is based come in six volumes, chock full of loveable characters and a plethora of film and video game references. Edgar Wright’s Spaced was similar in vein so the task of bringing the hyper-active books to the big screen couldn’t have been in better hands. The film may suffer in some areas but his direction and editing is second-to-none, perfectly capturing the vibe of the series.
Nobody was worried about that partnership but they were worried about the casting of Pilgrim, and rightfully so. Michael Cera has a talent, unfortunately it’s a talent limited to only one type of character. The awkward geeky teen. The character of Pilgrim has some of those traits but there’s a lot more to him that Cera has never really shown before. That said he still does a decent job but throughout the audience is still very aware of Cera’s presence.
The rest of the cast is top notch. As Pilgrim’s gay roomate Wallace, Kieran Culkin steals every scene he’s in. Emily Wong as Knives Chau is similarly great and Alison Pill as the deadpan Kim Pine rounds off a strong supporting cast. It’s this supporting cast as well as the direction that makes the film. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is good at times but her Ramona Flowers isn’t quite the same as the one in the books. It’s a tricky character to pull off but in the film she comes across as cold making the romance between her and Scott harder to invest in.
More than anything Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is a triumph for Edgar Wright. The plot suffers due to having to cram all seven exes into a single film but the fight scenes are varied enough and fun enough to watch. This mixed with the intensely colourful visuals make Scott Pilgrim a success. It may not be the new kind of film-making that one well-known film magazine claims it to be in typically hyperbolic fashion, but it’s fun and exhilerating all the same.