Scott Pilgrim vs the World Review

Published 5 years ago by , Updated August 13th, 2010 at 10:39 pm,

scott pilgrim vs world review Scott Pilgrim vs the World Review
Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman reviews Scott Pilgrim vs the World

Scott Pilgrim is a difficult movie for me to review. I actually dreaded writing this review because I imagine there will be much skewering heading my way – but I have my own ideology when it comes to movie reviewing, so that’s all there is to that.

Why is it a difficult movie for me to review? Because although I recognize that technically it is a great film, I just didn’t like it very much.

The movie is based on a series of graphic novels, which I have never read. The story is about a young man of 23 named in the title (played by Michael Cera). He lives in Toronto with a gay roomate, is in a band, is “between jobs” and suffered a devastating break up a year ago with a girl who went on to be a major rock star. In the meantime (and on the rebound) he’s dating a 17 year old Asian high school girl (Ellen Wong playing Knives Chow). He’s a bass player in the three person band called the Sex Bob-Ombs.

Things seem pretty directionless for him personally until he literally meets the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers. She’s from NYC, dresses funky, colors her hair in primary colors and rollerblades around town. Despite the fact that he’s with the adoring 17 year old Knives, he’s completely smitten by Ramona and is determined to woo his way into Ramona’s heart.

Alas as it turns out, to win her heart he must battle her “7 evil exes” (not to be confused with “7 ex-boyfriends”). Once this begins, the film shifts from the seemingly “real” world (albeit one where labels pop up on the screen describing characters) to one where Scott and those he must battle are possessed of video game-themed superpowers.

Let me get to the good stuff… Edgar Wright has made what could be called a game-changer film – the whole concept of it, the flashy visual effects (not only the fight scenes, but the combination with graphics, animation and comic-book style captioning I haven’t seen since the Adam West Batman TV series) and the fight scenes. Note to future superhero movie directors: Sit down and watch the one on one battles in this film over and over, until they sink in.

There’s witty humor and there’s dry humor, and there is some depth to be found in the characters. Unfortunately, most of it is found in the supporting characters and not the leads.

The “exes” are… and forgive me for using this word, but it applies… delicious in their portrayals of Ramona’s dumpees. So incredibly campy and over the top that they’re really quite funny. My favorite was Chris Evans, with eyebrows arching so high they looked like they were controlled by animatronics. Brandon Routh, still looking in Superman-shape is also good as the guy who gains his superpowers by being a pure vegan.

Ellen Wong gives a tender then suitably angry performance as the girl dumped by Scott, but the character with the most depth in the film is Kieran Culkin as Wallace Wells, Scott’s promiscuously gay roomate. He feels like the most “real” person in the movie in an ocean of extreme caricatures and washed out personalities. Mark Webber and Allison Pill also give good performances for the limited amount of time they have on screen.

Michael Cera plays his character so low key for the most part, that Pilgrim seems to be on Prozac, Valium, or both. Inexplicably, he’s a babe magnet – one with a fear of commitment who’s left a series of broken-hearted girls in his wake. Based on the character as presented – this makes no sense. I will say one thing I got a kick out of was watching Michael Cera as action hero in his fight scenes – so incongruous as to fry your brain cells.

Then there’s Ramona – while played with much subtlety by the beautiful Mary Elizabeth Winstead, she also has left a wake of destruction in the hearts of many ex-lovers. She seems wise beyond her years (or just weary at a young age), she also seems like someone who would dump you shortly after you thought you won her heart.

While this is a story of a boy learning to become a man and take responsibility for his actions, the “learning moment” seemed pale instead of defining, and not something that was life changing in a deeply significant way. Yes, it’s a love story – but to use the vernacular, in the end it’s weak sauce.

If based on the trailer and commercials you’re thinking of bringing your kids, be aware that there are a few scenes of a sexual nature in the film, both hetero and gay – more hinting than anything else, but just something to be aware of. And there’s a running joke about f-bombs being said but bleeped out with a black band across the mouth of the person saying them.

While I recognize the artistry of the film, I didn’t much care about the main characters or their story, so I can’t personally give it a glowing recommendation. From what I’ve heard, in the books, Scott Pilgrim is a more engaging and deeply rich character – too bad that didn’t make it into the film.

Much like The Expendables which opens this weekend, I think Scott Pilgrim will split audiences – there will be some who absolutely love it, and others who either just plain won’t like it or just won’t “get it.” Some will feel a sense of connection to Cera’s journey as Pilgrim, either as someone who’s going through what they’re going through right now, recently or a long time ago – while others will just find him kind of a distant, forgettable character and will be left saying “that’s it?” at the end of his journey.

Count me in the latter group.


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Scott Pilgrim vs the World trailer:

If you’ve seen the film, visit our Scott Pilgrim spoilers post if you’d like to discuss the film without worrying about ruining it for those who haven’t seen it yet.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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  1. Ken J
    Yeah i just got the habit OF PUTTING the F on other forums,i wont do it here though…..

  2. Lol you clearly have no clue what a hipster is. What I said is not the definition of hipster not even close. Hipster has already been explained on here thanks for playing though.

    I think it applies to this topic so a few things about the trends of this generation I don’t get.

    The love of really crappy punk music
    Everyone where’s a star
    lots of guys wearing pink
    most girls look sort of boyish and most guys dress like a girl
    everyone suddenly has a cause
    Every single one of them is a far left liberal with out fail. Not saying it’s wrong or right just weird that it’s trendy
    the over use of bracelets

  3. Nearly 42 and I loved it. Although I am a comic geek ;0

  4. The trailers did not work for me at all, but I’m glad that Cera playing the same character he always does might actually work out this time for him.

  5. Absolutely loved the movie, comic not so much. Was really pleased what Edgar Wright did with it.
    I can definitely see where age would be a determining factor as to the enjoyment you’d get out of this film though.
    All of the nice little things thrown in there about games/music were really nice touches.

    Overall it gets a 5 from me

  6. Holy crap I loved this movie. I have no argument to back myself up, it was just pure enjoyment the whole way through. No, Michael Cera didn’t do a fantastic job as Scott Pilgrim, but it didn’t ruin the comic books for me, either.
    I just simply loved basically everything about this movie. It got 4.5 stars from me.

  7. I took my 11 year old son (I’m 47) and we both had a blast. I would agree with the 3.5/5; it took a while for the movie to get interesting for me but after the fighting starts, it turns into 4/5.

  8. Vic-

    I have to agree with you here. I liked the film for its wit and originality, but I didn’t care for Cera as the hero at all. I have nothing against geeks, but I’m just a little tired of having this tired notion of role reversal crammed down my throat. I mean seriously? Another male lead who seems to be devoid of anything resembling balls? And yet another aloof female lead with a tough-as-nails exterior who is melted by our hero’s bungling, sissy boy pick up skills?

    It made me a bit ill in the end.

    • Crom Crom,

      Yeah, the more I think about it the more it bugs me – and gives clarity to the weak box office.

      Despite what they think on both costs, audiences still want men to be men (look at Expendables with it’s seething testosterone and its box office).


  9. hey guys I just saw the movie I really liked it I thought it was dead

  10. I’m 27 and I wasn’t a fan of this at all.
    I’ve never read the comic books, but I found the film to be over the top, shallow and just generally boring, to the extent that I walked out of the cinema after 45 minutes.

  11. i thought this movie was genius, although i will consent to not really liking the scott pilgrim played by cera as opposed to the one in the books. but other then that, i loved it so much its the only movie in years that ive seen multiple times

  12. I walked out of Scott Pilgrim. A third of the way in, I asked myself, “Would staying for the remainder of the film be a pointless waste of time?” When my self answered back in the affirmative, I left the theater. Thank goodness it was a dollar movie. While technically impressive, Scott Pilgrim is a stupid movie, with characters I care nothing about. Later on I realized the reason I didn’t like what I saw. It was as if the characters were written by children.

  13. This review caught me at an impass. I initally looked at this article because I thought the rating was low (Well, mostly because The Sorcerer’s Apprentice got the same rating when this film is much better), however, after reading the whole article, I completly agree with everything you said. The only thing I wish you would have also included was a nod to the garage band meets Game Boy soundtrack that added to the film. I suppose that, like you said at the end, some will love it others are left saying “that’s it?” I’m one of the ones that loved it ultimately, but had a “that’s it” moment at the very end. The door thing was “weak sauce.”

  14. I love this movie. When I saw it, I laughed so hard and so loud (the audience was the same.) Not only do I love the movie but the Graphic Novel series it’s based on, it’s the few Graphic Novels I read that are fun (The past graphic novels I read are often grim and dark, in fact the first graphic novel I read was Maus.) So long story short awesome movie and books, totally recommend both.

  15. I loved the comic. The movie (even if its pretty good) is nothing compared to it.