Scott Pilgram Vs The World is a Edgar Wright cult classic starring Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, a loser who plays base for a band started in a living room with some friends. Now off the cuff nothing really special about what I’ve just described right? Wrong, upon first view, the opening credits hints at exactly what type of movie you are about to watch. We are introduced to Scott (24 yrs) via a highly inappropriate romantic relationship with 17 year old school girl Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). She seems to adore Scott and his friends comment of his decision to date a high school girl following his previous failed relationship, we’ll speak on that later.
As the opening scene introduces us to his band (Sex Bob-omb) we witness the stylistic choice Edgar Wright chooses to use for this film. Based off a comic of the same name by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Wright emphasises on comic style imagery, scene transitions and character direction to make it feel as if you were reading a comic book rather than watching a film. As mentioned earlier, the opening opening scene transitions from sex bob-omg simply rehearsing one of their songs into it being the theme song for the opening credits. I am a big fan of Wright’s direction style with his filmography including some of my all time favourite movies (Cornetto Trilogy, Attack the Block), but on this occasion I truly believe he was able to find a perfect balance of comedy with total insanity.
The premise of this movie is Scott who is currently in a relationship with Knives meets Ramona Flowers, a delivery girl with a weird taste in hair dye, he becomes infatuated with her and ultimately woo’s her with his strange ways. Unbeknown to him, Ramona has 7 exes, and in order for Scott to truly be with her, he must overcome them, via combat. As Scott encounters all 7 exes, he is faced with having to dig deep and find something within himself to overcome each obstacle.
The film follows the narrative in from the comics, with Scott having to fight both male and female exes, and the fight scenes are styled as if you were playing a fighting game like Tekken or Street Fighter, with Scott earning points for combos, there being a consistent trend of someone shouting ‘Fight’ prior to the beginning off every bout and Scott earning a reward if when he defeats each opponent. Wright is able to fuse the comical elements, expertly delivered by Cera, with the dramatic plot of Scott’s fascinations with Ramona, the first fight includes a sing and dance number, something that would seem preposterous on paper but turned out great and fitted with the narrative of the insane world Scott has been thrown into. At first all that is happening seems to confuse Scott and he shows no seriousness towards what is happening, but as he begins to understand that in order for him to get his girl, this is what he must do, we begin to see a shift in Scott from a goofy character to one determined to win at all costs.
The film starts to slow a little bit towards the middle of the second act , in which Scott has to fight a movie star, a lesbian ex lover, a super hero vegan, twins who happen to be DJ’s and the final ex Gideon Graves (Jason Schwartzman). Some would ask what exactly it is about Ramona that makes Scott willing to go so far to get her, and from their on screen chemistry, it doesn’t exactly scream comparable. Ramona is often very introverted, mild mannered and quiet, the contrast of Knives, not Scott’s ex, who is outspoken, animated and naive to say the least. This decision to have both women in Scott’s life be the antithesis of each other is a ploy used by the screenwriter to explore Scott’s mental state, dos he want to stay a child, living a stone’s throw away from his childhood home, sharing a mattress with his best friend or does he want to ‘grow up’ an repeated rhetoric lambasted at him by his sister and close friends? This film examines at what point we all must develop an inner monologue about who we are and set standards for ourselves as we look to grow and develop as individuals.
By the end of the movie, Scott is tasked with facing the final ex and the ‘Boss Villian’ in gaming terms, Gideon Graves. Graves has somehow been able to manipulate Ramona into dumping Scott and and returning to him, along with signing Sex Bob-Omb (minus Scott) to play for him. It seems like Scott is lower than ever, but the third act delivers Scott’s redemption as he able to harness not the power of ‘Love’ (He tried that and had to restart the level, another game reference), but the power of ‘Self respect’. At the end of the movie and comics Scott ends up with none other than Knives, as he comes to understand that although their relationship may have seemed inappropriate on first glance (Age difference), Scott was enjoyed being with her, he enjoyed quoting obscure facts nobody cared about, he enjoyed playing video games with her and he loved the fact she cared so much about his ambitions to be part of a great band. Whereas, with Ramona it was just an obsession with a girl he had no real connection or compatibility with.
Scott Pilgram Vs The World poses that same question to the viewer, are you someone willing to stick with something that might seem inconvenient to you at the time or are you willing to sacrifice your happiness for what you would perceive as a more overtly satisfying relationship in which compatibility is out of the question? The witty dialogue and comedic moments shine at the hands of Edgar Wright and for me its no surprise this film in the last 7 years has build a massive cult following. Although not a smash in the domestic box office, racking in just over $31M from a $85M budget, it has since garnered the acclaim it rightly deserves with many praising Wright for his forward thinking and stylistic decisions.
I would suggest giving this movie a watch with some friends and can guarantee a laugh, if not a cheer for our nerdy protagonist. Check out the trailer for Scott Pilgrim Vs the World below.