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. I have absolutely no idea what the appeal is for this movie… *shrugs*

    • My god Ken J,I’m right there with you!

      This movie looks so stupid and I’m willing to be that if Edgar Wright had nothing to do with it,there wouldn’t be half the interest.

      I’m predicting that it won’t beat out The Expendables this weekend.

      • I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally could have cared less that it was an Edgar Wright movie. The reason I liked it so much is that I am a fan of the graphic novels and the movie, though deviating from them to get the entire story into movie, the movie held true to feel of the comic. That and I liked all the classic gaming references.

    • I agree man, looks completely stupid and uninteresting.

  2. I think a big thing for liking this movie like you said is the generation gap. Me and some friends of mine (oldest is 19, youngest 16, I’m 18) just saw it at midnight. We all loved it. We are also all borderline hipsters definitely indie kids so we can relate to all the characters, especially Scott. You mentioned Ramona’s “funky” clothing, and it is to an outside observer, but that is how half of the girls I hang with dress. So I think for somebody my age this movie is awesome, for somebody your age (@ Vic) it’s kind of lame. It is definitely geared towards a specific audience.

    • I’m not so sure its the age group… as much as its the personality and the interests of the person. Someone say… who likes video games or has a weird sense of humor… most of my friends would love this movie. I went to see this with my roommate and my boyfriend and we all absolutely loved it. I already had a good idea that a good portion of people would not like this movie nor would get it.

      • I agree with you Amanda I don’t think it’s as much of an age issue as some people think it is. I know a few people Vic’s age that would love this film and I know people my age who wouldn’t. It’s just a quirky sense of humor with stylized visuals. I think if your a gamer, you like wright or Cera there is a good chance you will like it.

        I’m a big comic fan, love video games, and I enjoy Micheal Cera. I am not trendy or a hipster. I hate punk rock and goth and all that crap. I don’t share the same interests as people my age or younger generally have.

  3. I’m 25 and this holds zero interest for me. Michael Cera is always an off putting force in movies for me, but the look of this film, the plot, the characters, just looks like something I might have really liked when I was 12.

    • Fair enough.
      I’m 30 but 12 in my head at times, so I really look forward to this.

    • I highly recommend it Sam if nothing else at least give it a shot on DVD or something. It’s well worth the time.

      • Seriously? Ok, maybe I’ll check out then. I’m a fan of Edgar Wright, and I like Brandon Routh too.

        • Similar here (I love Wright and enjoy Routh), but I’m also a big fan of video games and absurdity. So this film is practically made for me.

    • I don’t think I would have liked it even then.

      On a side note,it’s a little strange to me that you are only 25 and are an obvious fan of Quantum Leap.I would’ve thought that Quantum Leap would’ve been past your generation.Please don’t take offence,I’m just a little shocked that someone that young would’ve liked that show.

      • Quantum Leap was on until 1994-5. And if something is as great as Quantum Leap, then its ageless, doesnt matter to me when it was made. Loads of my favourite stuff was made before I was even born, Star Trek, Star Wars.

  4. I’m not at all a hipster I’m also not a trendy person. I’m considered more of just a regular guy. I don’t understand or follow most trends. Anything that is trendy that I might possibly like I probably liked long before it was popular.

    That said this film was great. It was smart and funny. I would say it’s easily the funniest movie of the year. Not the best film of the year that goes to Inception, but the funniest by far.

    • “I’m not at all a hipster I’m also not a trendy person. I’m considered more of just a regular guy. I don’t understand or follow most trends. Anything that is trendy that I might possibly like I probably liked long before it was popular.” – Definition of Hipster.

  5. Its most likely a generational gap but I have no interest in seeing this movie or at least paying to see this movie.

    It’s not the teeny storyline or the hipster idea’s. It’s Michael Cera. I have not cared for any movie he has stared in.
    Although “zombiland” was tolerable.

    My problem is his acting style. He has none.
    The guy on the netflix commercials that plays the father of the “rightnows” has 10 times more acting skill and range.

    His characters are the exact same from movie to movie without any variations. You could take his scene’s from any movie and cut it into any other of his movies and there would not be a pause in his charterer.

    Plus, I always have really low expectations for any movie that uses “rolling Stone” or other critic endorsements in their commercials.Specially when they have them before the movie comes out.

    • Michael Cera wasnt in Zombieland was he?

      • No he wasn’t,that was Jesse Eisenberg.

    • @Tyler,

      I don’t know what to think of what you just said. Just because he is type cast doesn’t mean he has no range or acting skill. He plays the awkward teen/young adult well and so he can play those parts well. Also, Jesse Eisenberg was in Zombieland, not Michael Cera.

  6. I was sort of expecting a reaction like this, though of course I mean no offense by that at all. It is very much aimed at a particular generation of people, though some people within and outside of may also like it of course.

    I’m seeing it this afternoon anyway, but the few couple reviews I’ve read seem to indicate that the condensing of the 6 books into one movie has sacrificed proabaly a lot of the character development for the characters, but this was something I was expecting honestly. Given the film turns what was about a year or more in the books into what I’ve heard is only a couple months anyway.

    Sort of sad to hear the ‘learning moment’ doesn’t feel all that substantial, but I’ll see for myself anyway.

    Can someone explain to me what the term ‘hipster’ means though? I’ve heard that term thrown around so much with this film (particularly by people wanting to trash it), but never really heard it before then.

    • A hipster is kind of like a sub-category of an indie kid. They smoke, they drink coffee, they smell, they are pretentious, and they try to be trendy while trying to be OBNC (Off Beat Non Conformist).

      • Huh, so that’s it. Thank you. Can’t say I fit that profile at all though nor do I personally know anyone that does.

      • LOL, sorry, but I find people like that such idiots. I 100% understand not wanting to conform to everyone else’s standards, I’m like that too, I don’t wear trendy clothes, I wear what I think is comfortable and do what I want to do not what others think I should be doing. BUT, to do things JUST to be opposite of what’s popular, that’s retarded. Sometimes the popular thing IS the best thing to do… So they are not conforming to the popular, but they are conforming to this so-called “non-conformist” lifestyle. So basically, they are still basing their actions and their lifestyle on how others do it, just instead of doing it they are purposefully not doing it… I don’t think you should worry about what other people do that much…

        I loved that episode of South Park that made fun of emo goth kids. They were like oh, you can’t be a conformist, conformists suck, so for you to not be a conformist you have to dress like us, talk like us, and do the same thing as the rest of us non-conformists. LMAO, the irony is hilarious. :-P

        • lol. i remember that episode too funny

  7. im glad my local AMC theater here has 6 dollar showings on weekends before noon lol. im gonna see it and make up my own mind, im 40. and i like cera. i just question when he does really a bad bad film with really terrible actor yes im talking about you Blacka

    • oops Black not Blacka LOL

  8. I have to respect the review for what it is but will still go to see it.

    While I haven’t really loved Michael Cera in anything since “Arrested Development” he does play his stereotype well and I think will get to breakout of that a bit with the fight scenes as Scott Pilgrim.

    I have had a love for Edgar Wright since I first saw “Spaced” and he has never disappointed me. I loved that Vic pointed out the one-on-one fight scenes. I read that Wright worked on this movie for three years to get it right. That is a love of film and not of box office gross.

    I was also assuming a loss of character development with fitting six graphic novels in one film (the last novel just released in July after the movie had finished wrapping). I am willing to trade that to have one good movie based on five graphic novels than one good movie and five crappy movies based on six graphic novels so the studio can squeeze as much money as they can from these little gems.

    You can never have it all…

  9. @Vic

    How would you say Pikgrim fared compared to this Summers other COmic Book film, KICK-ASS? Better, worse, the same or just different?


    • BlueCollarCritic,

      I liked Kick-Ass a lot more than this.


      • Kick Ass was cooler than a ganster penguin.

        • DrSamBeckett,

          LOL – damn… look at that, we agree on a movie. :-P


          • Had to happen one day Vic, we probably like loads of the same movies. Probably.

            • DrSamBeckett,

              No doubt. I’ve seen hundreds of films that I’ve never mentioned here.


  10. I will only see this movie because of one reason…Edgar Wright

  11. Well guys im 18 and im very pumped to see this movie,im going this weekend hopefully……I enjoyed Kick ass alot,but IDK this trailer is so freaking AWSOME!!! Im sure ill love it no matter what!

  12. I absolutely adored this movie and not just because of the astonishingly unique and imaginative visuals.
    This movie, I think, recognizes something many films fail to. Movies are allowed to play by their own rules.
    Now allow me to explain.
    Any work of fiction is creating a universe. A place, people, events, that do not exist in our world. And yet, the one thing that remains the same in almost any work of fiction is that it has the same basic rules as the world we live in. Rules like logic, but even more importantly, the golden rule: Causality. Everything happens because something caused it to happen. Everything must have a an explanation. Even the wildest, most fantastical works of fiction subject themselves to this rule.
    Superman can fly because he is the last son of Krypton and the yellow sun of the earth enriches his body. Gandalf can create winds and light because he is a wizard.
    For anything to happen, there must be a reason. Technology. Magic.
    But in fiction, you are allowed to make the rules. Or choose not to use certain rules. Things can be any way you want them to be, simply because in that universe, that is how things are.
    To draw another example, a film I consider one of my creative inspirations is Minoru Kawasaki’s Executive Koala. The protagonist, Tamura, is a Japanese salary man climbing the corporate ladder and creating a future for himself. Things take a turn, however, when his girlfriend is found murderers and Tamura becomes the primary suspect, as his wife dissapeared three years prior. Slowly Tamura’s sanity begins to unwind as he discovers dark secrets about his own past. And he’s a koala. Why he’s a koala never comes up. It isn’t remarked on, it isn’t a plot point. He is simply a koala.
    Scott Pilgrim is like this. It creates its own reality, free from the constraints of causality.
    While some movies rush to justify everything that happens on screen, like an insecure overcompensating by detailing their reasoning for everything, This movie is much like Ramona herself. Confident. Unapologetically unique. Her is is a variety of ever changing colors and she likes to wear goggles sometimes. Because that is the way she is.
    In Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, people will turn into coins when you defeat them in battle, Vegans are telekinetic, and if you come to a personal revelation, a sword might sprout from your chest.
    That’s simply how this world is.

    • correction: Her hair is a variety of ever changing…..

  13. I think Michael Cera has definitely found his niche, he always seems to play this kind of character. But he does it well and its usually entertaining. Might rent this on dvd.

  14. Longshank I’m pretty much the same age as Drsam and I’m a big QL fan as well. Sci fi played replays all the way up until I was in my late teens early twenties I basically grew up on it. I’m assuming the same for Drsam.

    Also alot of people are interested In Scott Pilgrim because it looks good to us not because of Edgar. I’m actually not a fan at all of Wright but the movie just looks very entertaining to me.

    • This isnt out in the UK till next week, but I might go and see it. Just picked up the first book, it was fun.

  15. This film was soo much fun to watch. It did get off to a slow start, but became very good. I’d give it a 4/5.

  16. Just got back from it a bit ago. I quite liked it overall from the look to most, if not all, of the acting. I’ve never really seen anything with Cera in it, but I thought he did the character pretty well. A bit too meek was my main problem with him really.

    Still, after seeing it I can fully agree that it’s not for everyone.

    I thought the film dragged at times, particularly between Exes 3 and 7. I did like the battle with 5 and 6 though. Can’t quite pick out what it was though. I thought fights 1-3 and 7 were great though and that the actors playing them did a fantastic job.

    The thing I thought was lost were that it didn’t seem like Scott really learned much at all as well as them not really demonstrating precisely why Scott was going to all this trouble for Ramona (though it didn’t always seem clear in the books at first either I suppose). The character development felt that it was lost I suppose, but that’s sort of to be expected I suppose. Maybe it isn’t entirely right to simply compare the books to the movie though.

    All in all though, I still quite liked it. I loved the whole video game feel throughout the movie and really liked the fights. The movie was also hilarious at many points like the Vegan Police and whatnot.

  17. Cera has maybe another 5 years playing his douche typical character in every movie. I’m sorry but him being the only actor not willing and ready to reprise his role for the “Arrested Development” movie has put an extreme hatred for the kid in my mind. If he wasn’t cast in that role where would his career be? And for him to be the lone hold out just screams of douche baggery.

  18. Well,just like I predicted,this movie wouldn’t do so well this weekend.Looks like it could only scrape up 4.5 mil on Friday.Now,of course,that doesn’t make it a bad film.That just means that there’s no interest in a movie like this.

    I likened this movie to the interest equivalent to Speed Racer,and even though the weekend isn’t quite over yet,it looks like it might actually do worse.

  19. I’m thinking of giving this movie a shot, my only problem is Micheal Cera, I can’t stand his acting.

  20. i just saw it and it was fantastic! i loved the fights and evrything else! wow….i also love how in the end it said continue?? OMG it felt like i was playing a game….many funny parts. I RECOMMEND THIS ONE! :D

    • Ricky18,

      Can you please refrain from the use of “OMFG”?

      I’d appreciate it.


  21. I’m 39 and I loved it. I’d put it neck and neck with Kick-Ass as the best movie I’ve seen thus far this year.

  22. I think Michael Cera is funny in a “Bob Newhart” way. dry. quiet. makes you think. when it finally sinks in you rotfl.
    I definitely think Warren is the most amazing character in here. Another Culkin boy!! When I saw the trailer he reminded me of the “Davs” character in ‘Sean of the Dead’ he has a similar look. (sort of a gay Harry Potter feel… )
    I am 52 & love this movie!!!!
    It has a moral, like so many other stories. And I think it plays it out well..
    (never read the book either…)
    I’m recommending it to anybody who will listen!

    • Kieran Culkin played Wallace Wells. I don’t recall anyone named Warren.

  23. I’m confused by this whole “age/generational” thing as the reason to like or not like this movie. They’re using 80′s Atari 2600 graphics and early 90′s fighter games as their inspiration for the movie. How is this not something an older audience can relate to? If anything it is the xbox 360 playing young audience who should be the one’s rolling their eyes at all the Gen X nostalgia.

    • Raymond,

      In my opinion that’s pretty much the only thing an older audience can relate to because the directionless, meaningless, hip slacker thing is not going to appeal to older folks.

      It’s actually weird that the 80s/90s video game stuff was used in the film considering how “modern” the characters were.


      • I in no way resemble any of the characters from the film, but I’m about the same age as they are supposed to be. The 80′s and 90′s video game theme resonated because that was prime little kid time for me. Zelda is a fond childhood memory!

      • Speaking as a 22 year old girl: I played video-games most with my brothers when we were nine or 10. When my friends and I spend a night in and we’re not watching movies, we’re playing LEGO Star Wars on PlayStation or SuperMario Bros. on N64.

        Hearing those coins drop brings back a feeling I can’t even describe: pure nostalgia. As Scott Pilgrim is a bit of a slacker who doesn’t want to really take responsibility for the direction his life is heading, I could see him wanting his life to mirror a happier, child-like time… complete with the soundtrack and indelible imagery of Zelda or Sonic the Hedgehodge.

  24. I just came back from this movie and I found it very enjoyable. While it was not the acting that won me over (even though I loved every second the Kieran Culkin was on screen) the direction was outstanding.

    I read that if you’re a “gamer” you can understand “Inception” better with it’s levels – - I feel that and early ’90s gamers also benefits most from “Scott Pilgrim.” Not that you had to be one to like the movie but there were definitely moments made funnier by personal memories.

  25. VIC
    Oh im sorry man,i really am. I will i promise,its just that i get so darn excited. You know,young adults LOL….anyways i will stop.

  26. VIC
    I think its cool that you can edit comments :D

  27. Vic
    May i just say OMG? i tend to use that alot……ill try not to if you say no.

    • LOL, sure, Ricky. :)


  28. THANKS VIC! :D

    • Yah, OMG should be ok, I’m pretty sure he just has a problem with what the “f” stands for before the “g” in the other one that he doesn’t like. I tend to agree, it just sounds so vulgar and unnecessary…

      • The F doesnt stand for Fudge?

  29. I’m 48 and raised on punk rock and sci-fi. I took my kids (11 and 13) on Friday – who were raised on video games and always having the internet. We loved the movie and kept talking about it all weekend. It was fun, creative, well acted (Cera’s best geek role), and generally a really good time.

    Honestly, I think if you go with an open mind, you’ll have a pleasant surprise.