“Scott, if your life had a face, I’d punch it.” – Kim Pine
The stellar Edgar Wright has finally made it to the American shores by way of a cult series of graphic novels and in typical Wright-fashion, he’s not prone to just making any movie that would appeal to an audience of the PG-13 sector. “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” is self aware. It’s so self-aware it’s aware that it’s self-aware and makes its audience aware of its self-awareness by reminding us of its self-awareness with an often self-aware sense of humor that very few will get. Leave it up to Wright to make a broad mainstream teen film that will only appeal to a cult audience as “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” is basically about the modern generation. It’s pure unadulterated pop culture overload with ideals that are simplified and set to the tune of classic video games.
Edgar Wright is exactly where he wants to be after offering up “Spaced” and “Shaun of the Dead” in the UK which were unbridled celebrations of everything pop culture, and now he provides an American version with a satire not only on modern youth in America, but in our unwillingness to step outside the bounds of our knowledge of pop culture. While Wright does pay homage to the classic tropes of the pop culture generation, he also mocks it in many instances, exaggerating much of the relationships, relegating them to mere quarter arcade games, and supplying an array of vapid and superficial characters many of whom will be rooted for when in reality, they’re not remotely likable.
Even hero Scott Pilgrim is something of a selfish worm incapable of committing, he hangs around insecure moronic band mates, his best friend uses him, his sister wants nothing to do with him, his love interest is a vapid cliché, and the girlfriend (he’s trying to dump but has no courage to) is a meek wannabe incapable of mustering up an original thought of her own. Wright places his characters in the bubble of the pop culture orgy giving them all fairly derivative personalities and thoughts while also jabbing at our own sense of importance and relevance where we’re filled with problems that aren’t even as harrowing as we perceive them to be.
Characters here are so apathetic toward life they can’t even muster up enough emotion to care about one another, but in spite of all of that, Wright manages to deliver something of an exciting and hysterical spoof of the teen romance where every bit of melodrama is unimportant in the grand scheme of things, and every action is questionable. Many audiences will view “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” as a high five to our culture, but in reality, Wright basically points and laughs at us, the youth of this generation unable to muster up original catchphrases and fashion, grabbing pieces of our identity from television shows, video games, and celebrities. Wright adds the element of mockery throughout with a sitcom laugh track after Scott celebrates his one night with Ramona, and his ability to depict every emotional conflict with a tongue in cheek artificial flourish painting it to look like your run of the mill anime.
Which is not to say “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” isn’t fun. It’s action packed, has some brilliant direction, absolutely top notch editing, and puts on display a strong cast of young actors from (just to name a few) Alison Pill, Ellen Wong, Chris Evans, Keiran Culkin, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Michael Cera respectively all of whom give truly great performances and are allowed their times to shine. Wright essentially makes a statement about where we are in this world where nothing truly matters to us beyond relationships and video games, all the while making us laugh through the social commentary.
Wright presents a wicked throwback to 8-bit video games and our obsession with nostalgia, all the while standing back and asking us “Is this all we really care about at the end of the day? Is this all life can give us?” Wright goes for more than just an adaptation of a fairly popular graphic novel series. “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” is undoubtedly one of my favorite films of 2010, and one that will be grossly misunderstood by its fan base. Edgar Wright does it again with “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” an entertaining, spastic, and fanboytastic romance comedy that is also an interesting statement on modern youths detachment from actual human emotions through the advent of technology. That pretentious crap aside, “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” rocked my cock ’til ten o’clock.