Game Over 

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: spirited but clunky take on gaming culture.

film1.jpg

British filmmaker Edgar Wright has made a habit of converting the shabby into the genial and inventive, as witnessed by his previous features, the deserving cult fave Shaun of the Dead, which turned the zombie flick into British social satire, and the lovably over-the-top buddy-cop comedy Hot Fuzz. But separated from Simon Pegg, his star and co-writer on those films, and working in the U.S., Wright can't repeat those charms on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, a comic-book adaptation whose intentionally cheesy post-production effects and repetitive action scenes are instead merely clunky.

Based on a comic series from Bryan Lee O'Malley, the film follows romantically inept indie-rock bassist Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera, playing exactly to type) as he falls for terse, mysterious punk-rock chick Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, the cheerleader-uni-clad ingénue from Quentin Tarantino's Death-Proof ) and has to win her hand by doing battle with her seven jealous exes (among them Jason Schwartzman and Chris Evans).

Though based on a comic, the true source material here is video games. Much of the humor of the film is predicated on a familiarity with video-game culture, and though I haven't owned a gaming system since the Atari 2600, the references here are broad enough that I didn't feel like I was missing anything, which may be part of the problem. A couple of good gaming jokes aside, the film seems more content to merely invoke recognition than mine video games for interesting ideas.

But the biggest problem here might be Cera. The eternal sunken-chested worrywart is not incapable of playing a romantic lead, as witnessed by his turns in Juno and especially the underrated Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, which seems to be something of a precursor to Scott Pilgrim, with both films depicting Cera as a dorky indie-rock bassist wooing a seemingly unattainable It Girl.

Nick and Nora is simply a better, truer film than Scott Pilgrim — sweet and funny and generational without striving as hard for connection. But one of the differences may be that Cera can pass for an awkward high-schooler pining for a cool girl who seems a little out of his league. Playing a twentysomething here, Cera's relationship with Winstead strains credibility. Ramona is more like Scott's big sister. And it doesn't help that Scott Pilgrim saddles Cera with a silly, distracting haircut that the film tries to turn into a recurring joke, as if Cera, bless him, needed extra help looking awkward.

The film's overstuffed cast is a mixed success. Coming off her young-adult Oscar turn in Up in the Air, Anna Kendrick looks very out of place as Cera's younger sister, but other members of Scott's galaxy of female companions shine: Alison Pill is a gas as the band's Moe Tucker-style drummer, and Ellen Wong gives a vibrant turn as the high-schooler sorta-girlfriend Scott meekly dumps in pursuit of Ramona.

Most films aimed at a niche market are able to appeal beyond the target audience if they're any good. But I can't imagine Scott Pilgrim vs. the World appealing to anyone but the teen and twentysomething gamers to which it panders, many of whom will want and deserve better.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Opening Friday, August 13th

Multiple locations

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.


Favorite
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Rated PG-13 · 113 min. · 2010
Official Site: www.scottpilgrimthemovie.com
Director: Edgar Wright
Writer: Michael Bacall and Edgar Wright
Producer: Marc Platt, Eric Gitter, Edgar Wright and Nira Park
Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Brandon Routh, Alison Pill, Jason Schwartzman, Ellen Wong and Satya Bhabha

Trailer


Now Playing

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is not showing in any theaters in the area.

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
    • First Man

      Ryan Gosling plays Neil Armstrong in this flawed biopic
    • Hell Fest

      Music festivals and slasher flicks should both be more fun than this
    • A Star Is Born

      Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper dazzle in a rare remake that feels necessary.

Blogs

Tiger Blue

Missouri 65, Tigers 33

Beyond the Arc

Grizzlies Maul Hawks 131 - 117

News Blog

City Orders Lime Scooters Off the Streets

We Saw You

Science of Wine and more!

News Blog

Election Administrator Addresses Ballot Issues

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Shocktober V Gets Scary At The Time Warp Drive-In

Fly On The Wall Blog

Great Works of Literature as Written by the Shelby Co. Election Commission

News Blog

'Misleading' Ballot Questions Draw Ire from Voters

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Chris Herrington

  • Last Words

    In "Enough Said," James Gandolfini makes his last lead film role his best.
    • Sep 26, 2013
  • Masters of Sound

    New albums from two of Memphis’ most distinctive stylists.
    • Sep 19, 2013
  • Hayes Carll at the Hi-Tone

    • Sep 19, 2013
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Fifty Shades Freed

    Feature length commercial for luxury goods or chilling glimpse into the post-human future?
    • Feb 16, 2018
  • Death Grip

    Memphis filmmaker Sam Bahre talks about his 11-year struggle to create I Filmed Your Death.
    • Apr 19, 2018
  • Kong: Skull Island

    Five lessons from the ape-pocalyse
    • Mar 16, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation