PG Cooper: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Review

Posted: November 24, 2010 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews
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Release date: August 13th, 2010

Written by: Edgar Wright and Marc Platt

Directed by: Edgar Wright

Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, and Jason Schwartzman

I remember the first time I saw the trailer for this film. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, this looks insanely stupid.” Then I realized it was from director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz). That caught my interests. I really enjoyed Wright’s earlier films, but even so, I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy this. Then after it hit theaters, it started getting great reviews from critics (including this blogs own HT Schuyler). So at this point I figured I’d have to check it out eventually. In fact, I was rather looking forward to it. Once I got over the rather unusual premise, I actually was pretty excited. But now that I’ve seen it, was my hype justified, or should I have stuck with my general impression?

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World tells the story of you guessed it, Scott Pilgrim (Micheal Cera). Scott is an awkward young man living in Toronto. He is the bassist for an indie rock band, Sex Bob-Omb. Scott has been in depression since his girlfriend Envy Adams (Brie Larson) dumped him and signed her band to a major record label. In an effort to escape his funk, Scott begins dating Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), a high school student. While Knives is crazy about Scott, Scott feels little for her and she’s more there because she’s easy and convenient. But that changes when Scott sees Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). He soon falls in love with her and invites her to attend the battle of the bands that Sex Bob-Omb is playing at. While Sex Bob-Omb is playing, Scott is attacked by Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha). Patel reveals that he is Ramona’s ex-boyfriend and the first in a league of seven evil ex-boyfriends. And thus we came to the real plot of the film. In order for Scott to date Ramona, he has to defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends first.

So as I said earlier, it took me awhile to get over the premise. I mean, it’s a really bizarre story that won’t appeal to everybody. If you can’t get over the premise, you won’t like this movie, plain and simple. Personally, once I got over the story, I actually really liked it. It’s actually a nice metaphor about relationships, and how one is competing with their partners exes. Granted, the metaphor isn’t perfect seeing as Scott just uses brute force (for the most part) to overcome the exes. But, I don’t really find this a problem. This isn’t the type of film you watch for deep insight on relationships.

The cast is led by Michael Cera. Playing the title character, the movie really rests on his shoulders. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really do a good job. I don’t entirely blame Cera mind you, as I found the written character to be really annoying. The  character isn’t that interesting and he isn’t likable at all. I didn’t care if he beat the evil exes or not and I could care less about his relationship with Ramona. Speaking of Ramona, I found her to be incredibly boring and uninteresting. So when you talk two characters I don’t care about and put them in a relationship you have a lot of me not caring. Their relationship is ultimately really shallow and they don’t really have any chemistry. I can’t understand why they’re even together or why Scott feels so in love with her. For me, for a film like this to work, you need to be able to cheer for your lead character and want the central relationship to work out. With both these things missing from this, I found little to latch onto.

The supporting cast fares a lot better. One of my favourites was Scott’s gay roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin). Most of the laughs I got in this came from him. He was just a really funny, likable, memorable character. The other great supporting characters came from the seven evil exes. While not all of them were great (the Katayanagi twins come to mind) the ones I liked, I liked a lot. Two in particular stood in my mind as favourites. One being Chris Evans as Lucas Lee, a skateboarder and action star. The other is Brandon Routh as Todd Ingram, the bassist for Envy’s band the Clash at Demonhead. Both these characters, like Wallace, were really funny, likable, and memorable. Hell, during the fights against Pilgrim, I was cheering for them. I had a lot more fun with the evil exes then I did Scott or Ramona.

Two elements that I’ve always shined through in Edgar Wright’s films are humor and action. First, let’s talk about humor. While I found Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz to be really funny, this…wasn’t. Like, I got a few chuckles here and there, but not a lot of big laughs. And it’s not like the film doesn’t try. It does, really hard. And while some jokes and gags do work here, a lot don’t. One of the films attempts at humor is the use of onscreen visual tics. These include sound effects (Adam West Batman style), subtitles when loud music is playing and the characters can’t be heard, hearts when people kiss, etc. These never really bothered me, they were just kind of awkwardly there. While I did say earlier that a few of the characters made me laugh, over all, the humor in this is severely lacking.

Action on the other hand is completely the opposite. The action scenes here are awesome and are easily the highlight of the film. Usually in a movie when I don’t care about the lead character, I tend to tone out during action scenes. But the fight scenes here were just so incredibly done that I couldn’t help but be impressed. This is also where the films unorthodox style comes in handy. These scenes were beautiful to look at, well choreographed, fast-paced, and intense.

So overall, I wasn’t to impressed with Scott Pilgrim. As much as I enjoyed the action scenes, without good lead characters, there isn’t much to latch onto. Plus, the film isn’t really as funny as it should be. I feel like this could have been a really fun film, but as it stands, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is an uninteresting film elevated by some fun supporting characters and good action scenes.


  1. HT Schuyler says:

    Wow. That was harsh. Haha I’m kidding, but I think this just goes to show how the movie is not for everyone. For instance, you mention the movie isn’t that funny, while I on the other hand found it hilarious, mainly because I enjoyed the over the top randomness. It appeals to different people I suppose. You mentioned you didn’t care for the two leads and prefered the exs, again I was the complete opposite. I was really interested and invested with the leads and found the exs just as amusing side notes. This just goes to show you and I have seperate views when it comes to movies, but I respect your opinion. Great review by the way.

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