With Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Edgar Wright has crafted a film that can unabashedly be called his best to date and possibly the most entertaining film of all time.
Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is a 22-year-old unemployed musician in Toronto trying to get over being dumped by his girlfriend. He does this by dating Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), a 17-year-old high schooler, much to the dismay of his sister Stacey (Anna Kendrick). But that all changes when he meets Romona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the girl – quite literally – of his dreams. However, in order to be with her, he must defeat her seven evil exes.
This film is a treasure. It is an absolute masterpiece that hits all the right notes from the opening Universal logo to the end credits.
Cera is fantastic as Scott Pilgrim. This is definitely his best performance to date. There are layers and depth here that are unusual for him to explore. It is very nice to see him branch out from the akward, nice, geeky kid, even if some of that is still retained in this performance. Mary Elizabeth Winstead definitely shines as Romona Flowers. She is such an interesting character: aloof yet caring, a victim and a fighter, strong but helpless. Winstead does great work here, making sure to pull no punches or guild the lilly. She has cemented herself as a geek crush for the rest of time along with Princess Leia. Ellen Wong is devastating and adorable as Knives. She is the embodiment of young teenage love: easily achieved and destroyed beyond sense when it ends.
To list all the great performances in this film is to list the entire cast. When thinking about the memorable lines and moments, every character has one. There is a sense of palpable joy that emanates from the cast, making it clear that every one loved being there.
The film itself is made with such love. Wright has crafted a film that is a love letter to comic books, video games, and what it is like to grow up. There are lightning bolts that fly out of guitars and samples of video game music. There are hearts that fly from lips when people kiss. There are Michael Cera’s shirts: every single one is wonderful and speaks to his character and the scene. However, no matter how fantastical the film becomes, Wright keeps the story engaging and heartfelt by placing the focus on the characters and their relationships, and doing it with loving care. This is simply an amazing feat accomplished by Edgar Wright.
The sheer technical achievement of this film should alone justify its right to be considered a masterpiece. This is one of the most well-crafted films ever made. The structure of the film and the editing are incredible. The scenes move forward with the most brilliant uses of match cutting I have ever seen. The cinematography is stunning. Lighting constantly changes during the course of scenes and never ceases to be absolutely gorgeous. This is some of Bill Pope’s best work as a cinematographer.
But this movie isn’t all style, there is substance in the mix. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a wonderful coming of age story but it is also an incredible satire of the contemporary youth. Scott Pilgrim has the most exaggerated obstacles placed in his way that he has to overcome. He must literally do battle to win over the girl of his dreams. And that is all he cares about. He dismisses anything that isn’t of any immediate interest to him. This not only makes him representative of the contemporary youth, but also makes him into a character with flaws, a character that is interesting to watch. There are also moments satirizing the over-connected generation: Scott’s sister knows everything about Scott’s life the moment it happens because his roommate texts her. Also, she has to whip out her cell phone the moment she finds out and call him, regardless of the fact that she is at work.
I have dispensed with the usual format of breaking down the good, the bad, and the ugly because there isn’t any bad or ugly in this film to speak of. That said, there is one complaint to be registered.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World may be a film that is too good. There may be too much fun in this movie. The feeling of joy experienced while watching this movie and the feeling of living day to day life is dramatically stark in contrast. Watch the film and a few hours later you will be dying to watch it again, hoping to experience that same joy. And you will. The film delivers on repeat viewings.
It may have been irresponsible to make a film that is this good.