Throwback Thursday: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) movie review
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was released just ten years ago… in August. But once upon a COVID, it’s anniversary release took some time. We got a chance to go see it on Dolby last week because, like most people, we didn’t see it when it came out in theaters. (That said this was the fourth time I’ve seen this awesome movie!) So, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is based on the graphic novel series of the same name! The story follows a Canadian loser named none other than Scott Pilgrim who meets the girl of his dreams, but has to fight her seven evil exes in order to continue dating her. And like I alluded to, despite positive scores from critics and audiences, this Edgar Wright directed, comic-book styled action-adventure comedy totally bombed at the box office. Fortunately, it’s a total cult classic now.
I LOVE this movie. Okay “LOVE” might be a bit strong. But I do live this movie! It’s easily one of the most visually creative movies ever, well, created. Now if you don’t like hyper-edited action comedies where the words of the performed actions <type, type, TYPE!!> pop on on the screen like an old Batman episode, you might not be up for this. Even for Edgar Wright, this movie is visually insane. I love it, but I’ll admit, I had a headache leaving the theater last week. But if you’ve thought to yourself, “You know what, I keep hearing about that Scott Pilgrim movie. Maybe I should check it out.” You should. Here’s why…
Let’s work our way from the ground up here. Now I’ll be honest, I’ve only read one Scott Pilgrim comic, but I do know that this film follows the story fairly well. (Minus a few beats like the ending.) It wasn’t until this latest viewing that I realized what a somewhat good story is being told here. On the one hand we have Scott Pilgrim, who simply needs to grow up. He doesn’t want to face life’s problems and would rather hurt those around him when it makes life easier for him. What a relatable protagonist for anyone post-high school pre-adulthood. On the other hand we have Ramona Flowers, who steps up from being the object of Scott’s affections by having to deal with her own character arc and face the problems she has been running from her entire life.
Blah blah heroes blah blah character arcs, we all know a movie is only as good as its villains, and Scott Pilgrim’s got like, eight of them! Okay seven, but Brie Larson kinda counts… But yeah, I love the villains in this! Obviously they have no idea they exist to help our protagonists grow, but gosh the hilarious dedication from the League of Evil Exes only to be met by the realistically confused reactions from the rest of the cast as they grow more and more threatening is absolutely hilarious. What’s even better is that it is often met with genuine reactions where only the audience seems to understand how absurd getting superpowers from being a vegan is. I love the way they incorporate what feels like changing video game levels throughout too. What’s even better (because this is a movie) is how primary antagonist Gideon Graves ties in with the key arcs in the film. Good stuff!
The cast MY GOSH THE CAST! Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jason Schwartzman, Brie Larson, Brandon Routh, FREAKING CHRIS EVANS! Everyone in this movie is amazing. Except maybe Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim. No I’m kidding, he is PERFECT for the role. He just also stands out far less than all the more famous people who are in this film to hilariously overact. Best of whom is absolutely Chris Evans. Yeah great performances all around! Also really love Mark Webber in this movie. Everyone has great comic timing, but his is top notch.
Now let’s get to the real stuff: the filmmaking, editing, and music. Of which I’m going to need three paragraphs for. <NECK CRACK> You may be asking yourself, “Ryan. Isn’t editing part of filmmaking?” Well- shut up I know. What I mean is that the editing is SO FREAKING GGOOD that it needs to be sanctified and placed in a rank all its own. Without Oscar nominations apparently… Whatever. Seriously, I just looked it up- apparently his Cornetto trilogy (2004-2013) also went without Oscar nods. Whatever I guess Baby Driver got the nods for these movies.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah! “Filmmaking.” Pretty good stuff the cameras and all that. Wait you require more than that? Uuuuhhhhhh I- have to go to work soon, so I only have time to talk about… editing. Yeah that.
Smash cuts are a critically underappreciated form of editing, and NOBODY has perfected them more than Mr. Wright. He’s brought clever transitions and visually interesting introductions for things as simply as a phone call to a whole new level, always looking as a scene and asking what’s the most he can to to make that interesting. He’s like the Bruce Banner to Michael Bay’s Incredible Hulk. Now when I talk about editing, I’m also talking about everything from the genius structure of the scenes to the inclusion of effects in what feels like every shot except the ones that would take away from genuinely dramatic moments. And while this film does use some self control here and there, it always gives me a headache by the end! And it’s the most satisfying headache every time.
Also the music ROCKS! I don’t even like the music that Sex Bob-Omg plays and it A. Is good and B. Fits. Heck there’s one scene with the introduction of a rival band, and when that band starts playing- somewhere between the music, performances, and editing comes one of the greatest moments of editing from the 2010s. Also I love the use of the Zelda theme in Scott’s daydream early on. So fitting. Everything is always fitting. This might be a perfect movie. Okay sorry, that’s a bit much.
Taking off a point because I don’t give 10s that often, and another point for being one of the most visually exhausting movies I’ve ever seen in my life, and you have one of my highest 8/10s. Does it deserve a 9? Yes. Will I give it a 9? Eh we’ll see. What I can say is that, if you haven’t seen Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, you absolutely should. Maybe if you hate flashy visuals and quick editing, Edgar Wright might not be for you. But he is for me, and this might be his best if you ask me. I love it, I’d watch it again right now, and I’ll be very sad when it gets bumped off my Top 100 Favorite Films. (Cause it’s like, #100…)
Anyway yeah, thanks for reading! So have you seen Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? What do you think about it? And are there any Wright films you like more than this one? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review and you want us to talk about other random 11+ year old movies, let us know in the comments!
-review by Ryan Prince