movie film review | chris tookey

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

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  Scott Pilgrim Vs The World Review
Tookey's Rating
7 /10
Average Rating
6.75 /10
Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong
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Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Michael Bacall, Edgar Wright Based on the graphic novel by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Released: 2010
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 115

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An insular, punishingly alienating experience preaching only to the faithful, devoted hearts of arrested 12-year-old boys. It’s singularly fixated on video games and shallow visions of women as one-dimensional objects to be either obtained or discarded and offers no possible point of entry to anybody over the age of 30. Tricked out with a relentless barrage of gimmicky visuals, like the soaring large-print sound-effect text messages that constantly splinter the screen as if in a cartoon, director Edgar Wright’s headache-inducing, ADD-addled adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s beloved series of comic books pits our titular twerp (lamely played by Michael Cera within his singular note of tiresome twee-ness) against new girlfriend Ramona Flowers’ Seven Evil Exes. The concept is ripe with metaphor, as at the outset of any relationship, most partners face an uphill battle against the memories of those who came before. Alas, Wright spends no time exploring this particular vein, instead choosing to clog the film with a relentless barrage of long-form, CGI-enhanced PlayStation battle sequences. It’s all meek Cera kicking butts and performing impossible stunts with Super Mario Brothers sound effects — which is funny for approximately 15 seconds. Unfortunately, we get to watch the same overlong fight scene six times in a row. (Thank god two of the Evil Exes are twins and double up.) But the biggest problem is that Scott Pilgrim is a heel, leading on and cheating on his dim-bulb underage girlfriend (who is Asian and quite unamusingly named Knives Chau, because that’s not offensive at all) while he chases after snot-nosed Ramona. Neither of the lovebirds is remotely interesting, nor do they have jobs, nor even anything interesting to say.. It’s all a wankoff fanboy wish fulfillment, telling scrawny losers that it’s OK to treat their women like shit if something “better” comes around. The only thing Scott Pilgrim vs. the World proves is that nerds can be just as shallow and mean-spirited as bullies.
(Sean Burns, Philadelphia Weekly)
So what if he passes the Herculean he-man test the story puts him through? He still has all the sexual charisma of an untied shoelace. And even a woman who likes the soft touch can’t do much with that.
(Stephanie Zacharek, Movieline)
Could Michael Cera be getting more vaporous with each repeat of his epicene screen persona?
(Peter Keough, Boston Phoenix)
The movie does everything its makers can dream up to imitate a manga: Screens split in half and then in half again. Action speeds up or slows down. Comic book word sounds - "whoosh," "r-i-i-i-i-n-g," "thud" and the like - pepper the screen. Backstories about exes are told in rudimentary sketches. The movie frame becomes a graffiti zone where the filmmakers can insert all sorts of written commentary including the fact that a character has to pee. How edifying is that? What's disappointing is that this is all so juvenile. Nothing makes any real sense. The "duels" change their rules on a whim, and no one takes the games very seriously, including the exes, who, when defeated, explode into coins the winner may collect. Certainly Cera doesn't give a performance that anchors the nonsense. His character sort of drifts, not really attached to any idea or goal other than winning the heart of an apparently heartless woman while dissing a girlfriend who, despite her "youth," seems ideally suited to his slacker personality. This is a discouragingly limp movie in which nothing is at stake. A character can "die," then simply rewind video and come back to life. Or change his mind about his true love and then change it again. Scott Pilgrim's battle isn't against the world; it's against an erratic moral compass.
(Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter)
The film is repetitive, top-heavy: Wright blows his wad too early. But a different lead might have kept you laughing and engaged.
(David Edelstein, New York Magazine)
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be stuck in the world’s noisiest and flashiest video arcade for two solid hours in the presence of two of the most irritating and least likable pseudo-hipster slackwits to ever grace the big screen as they endlessly whine, mope and mumble about their lives without ever betraying anything remotely resembling wit, charm or intelligence? If this is something that you have been yearning to experience, if only vicariously, then Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World is the answer to your most profound dreams. If this isn’t something that strikes you as being right up your alley and you aren‘t an easily flattered member of the fanboy contingent who automatically laps up anything vaguely designed with such people in mind, then you are likely to find the film a joyless and grating stab at creating a contemporary cult classic that is just as annoying and insufferable as the characters contained within and about as edgy as a trip to the auto department at Sears.
(Peter Sobczynski,
An infuriating exercise in geek-baiting populated by unlikable characters that grows more frustrating through its 113 minutes, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is more like a feature-length adaptation of Reality Bites: The Video Game.
(Erik Chldress,
Scott Pilgrim doesn’t work for anyone who isn’t squarely in its narrowed demographic sights. At times it seems like everyone involved in its making is too cool to care about traditional values of story and character or even adhering to a consistent internal logic, and that the only real purpose the film could serve is as a kind of cultural litmus test - to winnow out those who don’t get it.
(Philip Martin, Arkansas Online)
After 20 minutes, I sensed I was intruding on the movie's love affair with itself.
(Kyle Smith, New York Post)
No, it doesn’t make a bit of sense. Get used to it. Nor, for that matter, does Scott’s magnetism for women. The guy looks like and has all the personality of a fetus, but the ladies think he’s pure catnip. Scott Pilgrim is so hip and ironic that it hasn’t time for anything as mundane as common sense or recognizable emotion. Ostensibly it’s a romance, but don’t expect to actually feel anything in that department. What the movie does have is an astonishingly high energy level. This may be the most caffeinated movie you’ve ever seen, filled with furious and ironic editing, eruptions of cartoonish special effects and a guitar-screeching alt-rock soundtrack. There are also a handful of really funny supporting performers. Foremost among them is Kieran Culkin, who steals his every scene as Wallace, Scott’s uber-hip gay roommate. A running joke has the very straight Scott awakening each morning to find himself sharing the apartment’s sole bed with Wallace and an ever-growing assortment of men. In the end Scott Pilgrim vs. the World falls prey to its own diminishing returns. Scott’s big battles seem interchangeable, and by the time it’s over, you wish it had ended 20 minutes earlier. There’s only so much you can wring out of detachment.
(Robert W. Butler, Kansas City Star)
The chaotic splashy Frank Tashlin-like Technicolor film is filled with festive gimmicky visuals and snarky self-absorbed characters - including its hardly lovable snake-like antihero. The notion of love to the romantic triangle of Pilgrim, Flowers and Knives is so cool and sensual, but it seems insufferably empty without heart. The trio reduce love to its most undemanding meaning, in a pic that strives to be entertaining but the harder it tries to be so cutely entertaining the more enervating I found it.
(Denis Schwartz, Ozus’ World Movie Reviews)
If a picture as gleefully vapid as this is what passes for a generational milestone in 2010, we’re in trouble. Mr. Wright’s adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s beloved graphic novel series (unread by this reviewer) is about as complete and coherent a film as was the blur of light and sound that comprised Speed Racer. It’s rare to encounter a movie that means nothing, says nothing and never takes even the slightest of stabs at evoking any sort of lasting visceral feeling. It's a cotton candy blob disguising a black hole... Too often, Scott Pilgrim evokes the cumbersome, even torturous, sensation of watching someone else delight in playing a cool new video game that you can't touch. If such an experience defines the current generation, the alarmist Chicken Little crowd that’s always moaning about our society’s dire future might be onto something.
(Robert Levin, Critic’s Notebook)
A dog-frequency movie: enjoyable only to those tuned in to its particular register... What Wright possesses in a talent for swift, visually rich image-making he lacks in a sense of pacing and proportion. He dials Scott Pilgrim vs. the up to 11 within minutes, leaving him nowhere to take the narrative energy. Trippy on-screen titles ("Riiiing!" when a telephone rings, "Dddddd" when someone plays the bass), Super Mario Bros. graphics, light saber duels, jump cuts, screen wipes, zingers, quips and - it's all played with the same emphasis and knowing insularity... A grind, as monotonous and enervating as one long, sneering in-joke.
(Ann Hornaday, Washington Post)
It’s supremely annoying to see the ups and downs of romance reduced to archer-than-arch line readings and bloodless mortal kombat... Scott himself is more walking sight gag than character, and it doesn’t help that Cera is on adorably coy autopilot. He did this sort of thing better in the underrated Youth in Revolt... GAME OVER can’t come soon enough.
(Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York)
Also versus coherence, versus maturation, versus real emotion...
(Fernando F. Croce, CinePassion)
To the question scientists and philosophers have been asking for centuries, “Can whimsical comedy be irritating?”, the answer is Yes. Scott Pilgrim tries so hard to be loved that it ends up very trying indeed.
(Nigel Andrews, Financial Times)
Pilgrim, for all his laid-back shtick, is a slave to notions of hipness: when he believes he has found someone cooler, he ditches his Chinese girlfriend in a particularly weak way, and finds himself unable even to speak courteously to her later on. The heart of the geek romance depends on one continuing to like the geek, and by the end of this film, I’m afraid I didn’t.
(Jenny McCartney, Sunday Telegraph)
Michael Cera, while adept at delivering the particular brand of low-key humour on which the comedy depends, is no action hero. He’s tallish but pale and scrawny and has limited training in martial arts. Yet Pilgrim wins almost all the battles, improbably, by physical combat rather than by outsmarting the enemy. As such, the episodic battles become repetitive and loud rather than distinctive and witty. For adults at least, the film drags during these long set piece scenes.
(Joyce Glasser, Mature Times)

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