The course of true love never did run smooth -- but it rarely involves nearly as much martial arts as in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. This movie, adapted from the manga comic of the same name, combines wandering young adult romance with hyperactive, unrealistic, funny combat.
Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is a 22 year old Canadian semi-slacker. He lives in an apartment with gay roommate Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin), he's unemployed and plays bass in a band, and he's still fairly hung on his last girlfriend. The latter may be why he's dating Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), a 17-year-old Asian high school student.
Things change for Scott when he meets the girl of his dreams (literally), Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Ramona is cool, aloof, and has some unique baggage: Scott must defeat her seven evil exes before they can truly be together. This lot ranges from twin musicians to a psychically-powered Vegan. Oh, and Scott is still dating Knives Chau.
Director Edgar Wright (who did the wonderful Shaun of the Dead) knows that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is about style not substance, and he directs accordingly. All the characters are cool and aloof, usually saying clever things with a deadpan demeanor. Even the numerous elaborate battles seem routine to everyone. The cast delivers, but there's little depth to any character.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has a pretty unique visual style. The absolutely ridiculous battles here owe more to video games (multiple hits, defeated enemies turning into coins, etc.) than any other combat scenes in movies -- even the ones based on video games. Words drift across the screen for sounds, characters notice curses bleeped out, and intense emotions are accompanies by visual cues. This is key to the humor in the movie.
For all the fighting and young adult romance, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is, first to last, a comedy. And it's a terrifically entertaining one. This movie makes it very easy to let the brain relax and laugh along with this zany, fast paced, consistently over-the-top manga world brought to life. I could say this movie is about learning to deal with the romantic baggage from out past, but it's more about how discovering true love gets you a cool flaming sword.
Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch