Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010).

D: Edgar Wright. DP: Bill Pope. W: Wright & Michael Bacall. Starring: Michael Cera/Mary Elizabeth Winstead/Alison Pill/Mark Webber/Ellen Wong/Kieran Culkin/Brie Larson/Mae Whitman/Brandon Routh/Chris Evans/Satya Bhabha/Anna Kendrick/Johnny Simmons/Aubrey Plaza. (NOTE: Based on the graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley.)

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

– T.S. Eliot – The Hollow Men

One of the most quoted lines in all of Eliot’s poetry does well to characterize the likes of Scott Pilgrim and his intangible, beeping world of evil exes and hair colors of the week. Fashioning an entertaining story with reflective pop culture sentiment, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a strong contender for selling summer seats.

Edgar Wright (of British fame from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) tackles his latest project of a graphic novel come to life with just the right amount of energy. His diegetic world is unflinching, quick witted, fast paced, and diabolical in its use of color, sound, and effects. Working well with Michael Bacall, Edgar is also able to keep a handle on his script. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is balanced enough with action, sex, laughter, and music. However, neither writer seems able to answer on seemingly basic question, why Scott Pilgrim? Why should audiences care about him?

Unfortunately, for the film and for Cera, Pilgrim is kept one-dimensional. All he desires are girlfriends, attention, and the ability to avoid things or people he dislikes. Cera also plays him far too similar to his last roles in films such as Superbad, Juno and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. He’s definitely hammered down the role, making it charming and watchable, but here audiences will most likely be left waiting for that moment that truly defines Cera as Scott Pilgrim. He, sadly, is the reason for Eliot’s poem.

However, the rest of the cast fares very well with Kieran Culkin making the most memorable moments out of nothing as Cera’s gay roommate Wallace. Even better, every “villain” is distinct and somehow hysterical, a feat considering how well played Mary Elizabeth Windstead was at capturing a sulky, yet colorful Ramona Flowers. Luckily for audiences, there is so much else in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World that few people will be left without a smile and a guffaw at every video game reference. And although the presence of shiny coins, pee bars, and punches of text isn’t exactly explained, it all (with credit to Wright) somehow makes sense.

This being said, I must admit complete and utter ignorance of the source material. Whether or not this stands up to the graphic novel I cannot say, but I can say that the film is surely complete. And somehow effortlessly incorporates real settings with technological alternative universes and their bells and whistles. As I said before, fashioning a film that is reflective and celebratory of video game poplar culture while using it as a story device. In other words, I not only believed a “villain” burst into coins, but I enjoyed it too.

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