Scott Pilgrim vs The World: Review

26 August 2010

Written by: Jean Kemshal-Bell

Even if you know little about a film where Michael Cera is lead, you still have a fair idea of what you’re in for. Expect an off-kilter teen romcom riddled with indie-kid references throughout.

And while Cera’s latest flick Scott Pilgrim vs The World sees the return of the awkward, virginal role that’s been his trademark since his Arrested Development days, do not underestimate this film – it’s really like no other.

Think you have seen it all before? Think again. Somewhere between a romcom, sci-fi, video game, comic book and action film, Scott Pilgrim vs The World defies classification.

Adapted from the hugely popular graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, British director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead and sitcom Spaced) introduces us to 22-year-old Scott Pilgrim (Cera), who lacks a stable job and shares a bed with gay friend, Wallace (Kieran Culkin). Set in Toronto, Scott divides his time between playing bass in his band Sex Bob—omb and dating 17-year-old school girl, Knives (Ellen Wong) as a way to get over his famous ex.

Enter the beautiful, impulsive Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who changes her hair colour weekly from pink to blue to green. She is literally the girl of Scott’s dreams, appearing during his slumber before they meet at a party. But there is one problem—or seven; to date Ramona he must first defeat her seven evil exes.

An ode to the ‘90s child, Scott Pilgrim is loaded with pop culture references to please its 20-something audience. In one scene, Wright pays homage to cult sitcom Seinfeld, where Scott and Wallace parody Kramer and Jerry’s kitchen banter.

Hipsters will laugh at how accurately they are portrayed while those who love to hate hipsters will laugh harder at how conformist the hipsters’ non-conforming ways are. Scott even defeats a vegan ex by slipping ‘half and half’ milk into his coffee.

Culkin is delightful as Wallace, who refreshingly avoids playing up the camp, gay stereotype, while Wong’s performance as the band’s over-enthusiastic teen groupie will have you in stiches. It’s also nice to see Cera taking on a role where he is less vulnerable and at times even a little bit mean.

Despite Universal spending a huge amount on the special effects to achieve the film’s video-game aesthetic, Scott Pilgrim has the feel of an authentic indie film, and is no doubt a cult classic in the making.

Jean Kemshal-Bell is an Honours Journalism student at La Trobe University and part of upstart’s editorial team.