Based on a graphic novel, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” appeared to flourish in the first 30 minutes with its open-ended conceptual material. Its flashy and kinetic presence, initially anyways, seems to gravitate you into this infectious nerdy universe. Part live action comic book, classic arcade video game and satire of pop culture; even if construed within its quirky sensibilities, you felt this venture would/could prevail. Then something happened; my self diagnosed A.D.D chose to ignore the virtual fluff and look for substance. The result was a plot that seemed conceitedly vacant and was mostly an uninspired effort. Though, you must remember this is coming from a 27 year old man. I’m sure your 15 year old teenager, off their Ritalin and infused with Mountain Dew will find this film…AWESOME!!!!!!
Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is the bass guitarist for the attention deprived band “SEX-BOB-OMB”. After a messy breakup, he begins dating a 17 year old girl named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). She eventually becomes obsessed with Scott and the band. Pilgrim is disinterested after he meets the (literally) girl of his dreams at a party. Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has a disenchanted past and inherited Seven Evil Exes that Scott Pilgrim must now defeat if they are ever to pursue a relationship.
British film director Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”) helmed this sporadic endeavor. Having never read the six volume graphic novel, it’s challenging to criticize this rendition from the source. Wright chose more to focus his attention on the eye rolling duels with retina throbbing intensity. I can only assume that more must have occurred in those volumes with some attainable substance. Wright was never dull in his direction but lost sight of reminding us why we should bother caring.
One example, just like the video game world that this film pays homage, every character has an extra life. Never do you feel a true altering threat in the cartoony fights and exaggerated/daft villains. Another would be the callous love affair between Scott and Ramona. You never witnessed a hint of unbridled passion that would conceivably dictate a reason to pursue these battles.
I believe with an engaging front man, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” may have salvaged some reminisce of a decent novelty film. The charm of Michael Cera has largely run its course. His signature subtle comedic timing is brilliant at times but his whiny indecision bridges on the edge of annoyance after a near two hours of runtime. The only film Cera tried to dodge the typecast bullet was “Youth in Revolt”, but even then, his screen time was shared 50/50 with his naïve mannerism and deadpan delivery. You never bought in that Cera was capable of being a challenge to the Seven Evil Exes. Even when he was, though nothing suggested on why, you just went along in compliance.
“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” made me feel old. Some would dare call it high octane and unrelenting on the visual aspect but I call it redundant and draining. By the time I reached my personal breaking point, I realized there were 4 Exes left. Ugh. If this was a true video game, I would have set my controller down and turned the system off. I know there were only a few levels left but…I’ve got my fill.