Monday 23 September 2019

Mubi Monday: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010)

Note - this review originally appeared over on

Edgar Wright returned to the director’s chair with his first big American picture and produced another hugely entertaining modern classic that put him at three for three.

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is a twenty-something slacker dating a high schooler (Knives Chau, played by Ellen Wong) and playing in a band, Sex Bob-Omb. When he falls in love with the beautiful and aloof Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) it certainly looks like things are on the up and up, especially with Sex Bob-Omb finally moving from playing in a living room to taking part in a local battle of the bands. Things get complicated, however, when it transpires that Ramona has seven evil exes and Scott has to fight each one of them if he wants to keep her in his life.

Although it’s based on a series of graphic novels, Edgar Wright has here shown how to make the very best videogame movie possible. The structure, at heart, is the standard “beat each successively harder end-of-level boss” and the movie is full of great videogame references and audio and visual gags. Basically, Wright does for videogames with this movie what he did for action flicks in Hot Fuzz and zombie movies in Shaun Of The Dead.

The script, based on the original work by Brian Lee O’Malley and co-written by Michael Bacall and Wright himself, is chock full of great lines and you’re never more than mere seconds away from a great gag.

The direction, as fans such as myself would expect, is superb. With the design and look of the thing inspired both by the graphic novels and numerous videogames everything is eye-catching and every frame is full of little details for you to catch up with on repeat viewings (as was also the case with Wright’s previous two movies). The execution of the comedy is something completely unsurprising but what IS an eye-opener is the choreography and shooting style of each of the big fight sequences. Wright uses visual FX and editing to add energy and impact but he also takes time to showcase some great physical action, providing us with some of the best mainstream kick-ass fun since . . . . . . . . . . . well, I don’t know when. The Expendables, The A-Team, and The Losers were the more straightforward, and hugely enjoyable, action movies of 2010 but Scott Pilgrim, uber-geek that he is, fights his way up to earn a deserved spot right beside them.

As for the cast, there is nobody here who disappoints and it’s a testament to the quality from beginning to end that I can’t write this review without wanting to mention some highlight relating to every single main character onscreen. Michael Cera’s effortless geek persona fits perfectly with his character, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is cool and sexy and Ellen Wong is just as cute as a button. Kieran Culkin puts yet another great, fun role in his growing catalogue of great, fun roles and Anna Kendrick cements her reputation as someone to keep an eye on. The band members (Mark Webber, Alison Pill and Johnny Simmons) are a great bunch with Alison Pill providing the most entertainment as feisty girl drummer, Kim. And then we have the numerous evil exes – Satya Bhabha, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Mae Whitman, Keita Saitou and Shota Saito and last, but by no means least, Jason Schwartzman – each one with their own quirky style and each one necessitating a special, super duper finishing move. Chris Evans and Brandon Routh stand out as major highlights but that’s not really a fair statement because every major character and set-piece brings something memorable to the proceedings.

I feel like I’ve missed something out now, some great comment on the superb dialogue or some praise for one of the actors or even talk about the soundtrack (which I actually DID forget to mention despite how energetic and great it is), but that’s just because Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is so good that you want to praise every aspect of it. It just falls short of being perfect but it’s easily one of the very best, and most entertaining, films of 2010.


You can buy the movie here.
Americans can buy the movie here.

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