Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

A 2-hour-long wet dream for any video game nerd out there. All that’s missing: Bewbs.

In Toronto, 22-year-old bum Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is trying to make it big with his garage band Sex Bob-omb, lives with his gay roommate (Kieran Culkin), and has just recently fired up a relationship with a young high school student named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), even though everybody around him disapproves of it. Everything’s going all swell between Scott and Knives, that is until Scott has a dream of a girl named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a quirky, color-haired American gal that seems all to good to be true. Thing is, she isn’t something only dreams are made of, SHE’S FREAKIN’ REAL!! This obviously gets Scott’s heart beating up and down, and his mind going berserk, so he does what any love-struck dude would do: He pursues her in hopes of being her new love-interest. However, in order to do so, he needs to defeat her 7 evil exes with any trick he can pull off. Which ultimately means, a lot of “KAPOWS”, “WHAMS”, and “BAMS”.

No “THANK YOU, MAMS”, cause honestly, that would just be way too meta.

For the third time since it came out, I have watched Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and why I never decided to chalk-up a review for this until now, is totally beyond me, although I think I may have a clue as to why. There’s something about Edgar Wright movies that just intimidate the hell out of me; so intimidating, that I’m scared to even bother writing reviews about them, and feel more better just telling people that I’m a fan of them through conversation. It seems like every Wright flick has its own core audience that understands every joke, every pun, every piece of wit, and just about everything thing about it, so much so that any person who doesn’t quite “get it” or even like it for that matter, is ultimately “a noob”. Maybe that’s just all in my head (most likely is), but that’s the main reason why I have yet to write a review of this flick.

Got her with the old, "Do you know the history of Pac-Man" line. Works like a charm every time.
Got her with the old, “Do you know the history of Pac-Man?” line. Works like a charm, every time.

That is, until now. Three years after the fact, and just in time for The World’s End.

Never reading any of the graphic novels going into this, I have to say that I went in, originally, not knowing what to expect, other than sure mayhem. Why? Well, because it is directed and co-written by Edgar Wright who, as you may or may not know, is the creator of two of the funniest comedies from the past decade: Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. So yes, going into it, I knew that I was going to have to be watching the screen the whole time just to see and spot out all of the visual-gags, and get ready for what would be a very quick and fast movie, one that would not slow up for me or hold my hand, guiding me through to where I wasn’t left behind. If I missed a joke or two, Wright wouldn’t stop doing what he was doing so I could keep, so therefore, I knew I couldn’t either. However, despite Wright’s style being practically the same from every one of his other movies (meaning that they’re all hilarious, including this one), there’s something a tad bit different to the approach that he takes with this flick.

Rather than being a full-on parody of a certain genre, then becoming a film that could easily be considered apart of the same genre he is mocking, Scott Pilgrim is more of a straight-forward story that doesn’t make fun of any certain genre; instead, it combines two different types of styles that we usually see done in movies, but never to the full extent as they are done here: Video games and comic books. Right from the beginning of this flick, you can tell it’s obviously going to be an ode to video games; where when characters get hit, there will be words like “BOOM” and “BANG”, along with a bunch of frenzied colors gracing the screen as well. Even other action words like “RIIIING” or “THONK” show up, but here’s what surprised the hell out of me here: It never gets boring to see. Instead, Wright finds a way to make each and every one of these aspects of his style work and continue to spring out more inventiveness within his project, even if it is solely for the gamers out there that grew up on Zelda, and know the Final Fantasy II theme song by heart. I’ve never considered myself a full-fledged “gamer” of sorts, but this movie made me feel like I was watching one on screen, and a very fun and hilarious one at that.

And yes, there are plenty of comic book trademarks here, but not as obvious or as over-zealous as the video game trademarks. With that said, the movie still has plenty of fun with its manic energy that, not even for a single second, let up. There do come the moments in this movie where it has to slow down and give us a little bit of characterization and development, just so that we care a bit more, but even then the story still never cools down. It continues to fire more and more jokes, gags, and funny quips at us, all while feeling like an honest and heartfelt story about a dude just trying to overcome his own mishaps with love and life, and just be with the girl of his dreams, literally. Which actually surprised me because even though the flick never gets too serious or meaningful in the least, it still has a story placed well into the middle somewhere, that goes beyond just being about “a dude facing off a bunch of evil ex-boyfriends”. It’s more about a guy coming into his own, realizing how much of an ass he was in the past, and best of all, still learning that love is the most sacred thing to behold in your life, and you shouldn’t let it go, not even for a second. Some pretty soapy stuff, but it has a meaning for being present and I have to give Wright credit once again for at least tackling a the rom-com genre, and giving it a new vision, while providing the same kindred thoughts and spirits as well.

But like I said before, this movie is fun, fun, fun, and that must never be forgotten. Everything you expect to see from an Edgar Wright movie is here, if not more than that. Obviously there’s going to be a generational-gap between the people that did love the hell out of this, and the people that hated its guts, but that’s neither here nor there. What is “here”, is the matter of fact that this flick knows what type of movie it is, and continues to find new, improved, and refreshing ways to tell its story, while also giving us just the right amount of adrenaline and craziness we need to really get involved with it. You can be a “geek”, and love this; and you could be just a normal, average dude who enjoys movies for the sake of entertainment, and still love this. It doesn’t matter who you are, you’ll enjoy the hell out of this, and continue to find more and more aspects about it that you love about it.

That IS how people dress in Toronto. So disgraceful!
Yes, that IS how people dress in Toronto. So disgraceful!

Case in point: Me. I’ve seen it about three times by now, and it continues to get better and better. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’ve finally got a handle on what good humor is, or maybe its just that I’ve wised-up in the past couple of years and came to notice that Edgar Wright is one of the freshest voices we have in the movie world, and it’s better to embrace him, rather than be away from the rest of the pack and say “I don’t get him”. Maybe that’s it. I still don’t know. I love this movie, let me just leave it at that, okay dammit!!?!??!?

It seems pretty obvious though, that if you’re going to have a movie strictly dedicated to nerds from all over the globe, that it’s only right to include none other than everybody’s favorite celebrity nerd in the lead: Michael Cera. For most people, hearing Cera’s name attached to anything just gets them waving their hands up in disapproval, which makes sense. The guy definitely hasn’t done himself any favors by practically George Michael again and again, role after role; however, from my side of the room, I like what Cera does with these roles and even though he is still awkward, still a bit nervous, and always not-so sure of himself here, he’s still amusing and shows that he can prove to be a bit of a toughie as well. Also, surprised to see that he was playing that wasn’t the smartest guy in the room, or even the whole movie for that matter. He’s a bit of an bumbling idiot when it comes to certain decisions, and shows that he can still get by using his typical trademarks you may, or may not, love him for, but also spice it up a bit as well. Nothing too drastic in terms of what he does as Scott Pilgrim, but the dude seems really comfortable and seems really deserving of the honor of playing every nerd’s favorite superhero, that isn’t Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman (if you get my drift?).

While Cera’s doing his thing in the lead, everybody else on the side do their things as well; the difference with them is that they not only seem to be having more fun, but absolutely living it up in the moment, no matter how long they have on screen. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is pretty rad as Ramona Flowers, not just because she’s every hipster dude’s dream woman, but because she handles the dry sense of humor with perfect ease and resilience that it’s not hard to see her popping-up in more of Wright’s features; Keiran Culkin was an absolute riot as Scott’s gay roommate, Wallace, and handles the humor perfectly as well, while also adding his own bits of charm; newbie Ellen Wong is a great fit for Knives Chau because not only is she funny, but she’s quite endearing and cute as well, making it easier for us to get past the fact that she does become a bit stalker-ish by the end; and lastly, nice to see Brandon Routh actually do something with his career and life after donning the cape and spandex for Clark Kent, but also be very funny and show he may have a future in comedy, if he decides to wake up and smell the moolah burning. Those are the ones that just came to my mind first, but honestly, if you think long and hard enough, you’re going to find more and more people in this movie that just knock it out of the park. Everybody’s hilarious, everybody has something to do, and not a single cast-member feels wasted. Not even Mark Webber. Now honestly, when was the last time you saw that guy being funny?!??!?

Consensus: The central demographic for this movie may ruin some viewers, and win the hearts of others, but it can’t be argued that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is the perfect example of a movie that never lets up for anything or anyone, while also being hilarious, and always offering us something new to see or enjoy every time we watch it. Third time for me, and I’m still finding stuff out!

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

I guess "Finish Him!" wasn't in the script? Boo! Points taken off!
I guess “Finish Him!” wasn’t jotted down in the idea book? Boo! Points taken off!

Photos Credit to:


  1. First of all, never woulda guessed this was the same director behind those Simon Pegg movies. Not that I’d seen enough of those to “catch” that.
    Second of all, props for getting around to doing this movie. I’m actually a couple weeks away from reviewing it on my own blog. Just reading what you wrote reminded me of how much it blew me away. Still does. I’m more into anime than comic books and graphic novels (hadn’t really read any), but the nerd in me rejoiced within the first minute or two (I was a huge skeptic going in) as if it was the ultimate Nerd-gasm… or at least I hadn’t felt that way about a sci-fi/fantasy movie in a couple years 😎

  2. Nice review, Dan. I loved this movie, it’s just so fun and original, and I’d say I’m about due for another viewing of it myself as well. 🙂

    • I never put together the fact that the same guy who did this movie also did Hot Fuzz, another of my favorites. I think he’d be great for Ant Man, a property I don’t necessarily care all that much about, but that I hope turns out well because it’s part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

      • I feel like he’s the right man for the job. Let’s just hope it doesn’t get bogged down by the rest of the Marvel Universe.

  3. I can see that it’s really well made and a lot of work went into it but I just think the character of Scott Pilgrim is selfish and unlikeable. It took me right out of the film and made the whole thing a chore for me to watch

    • I can see that. He isn’t the most lovable guy you meet, and Cera definitely doesn’t do much to change his ways, but he was interesting and at least it allowed the guy to stretch his acting skills a bit.

  4. I agree with you – this is one of those movies which I absolutely love and could probably geek-quote my whole way through, but would find doing a review of it really difficult. It feels more like something I ‘get’ perfectly but would struggle to explain myself, and you’ve done a great job putting my own thoughts into words here! Good review!

    • Thank you very much. In all honesty, that’s why I waited so long to write this review and publish it, but thankfully, my better instincts kicked in and decided to just go through with it.

  5. The immense style can’t save it from its script that results in a film feeling longer than what it is. The interesting characters that the film has are poorly wasted and we are left with an unappealing lead fighting to win the heart of his dull girlfriend. Still, it still manages to entertain you for the most part. Glad you liked it though.
    Nice review!

  6. I love this movie so much. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it since it came out. In all honesty, my wife who loves it as well, had to put a temporary ban on it because I played it so many time. Just something about this film works for me on multiple levels even after multiple viewings.

  7. Great review of a great movie! After seeing it once, I bought the blu-ray, and I watch it every few months and I end up feeling awesome after it. That’s probably because I loved the ’66 Batman series with Adam West, I dig games like Street Fighter II and the side-scrolling fighting games of the 90’s and whatever random RPGs like Zelda and whatever else where someone turns into coins when they’re defeated. I haven’t played any serious new games in probably almost a decade, so when you say it’s a movie for gamers, I hope people don’t think that it has to be NEW gamers, ’cause really it’s the old school gamers who will probably like this film more. Also, I really dug Ramona Flowers. Definitely reminds me of a girl from college that I hit on a few times, with less success than Scott Pilgrim ultimately has.

    Fun times from Kim Pine, too, right? From behind the drums of Sex Bob-omb to behind a desk in Newsroom.

    • Overall, it’s just a solid flick. And you’re right about this movie being for gamers, it’s more or less the old-school ones, rather than the newer ones for those younglings.

  8. Nice review Dan. I’m not a gamer or comic fanboy by any means but I enjoyed all the elements from those worlds that were added to this film. Kept it light and reminded you to have fun.

  9. Such a shame this movie didn’t become a bigger hit, because it really is a great flick. I’m not a hardcore gamer, haven’t played much at all in the last 4 or 5 years. Still, I grew up with an Atari 2600 and stacks of comic books, and played pretty regularly up through the middle part of the 00s. Therefore, everything about this movie was pretty much right up my alley, especially since it’s never done in a condescending manner or warped to fit mainstream consumer tastes. Hmmm…I think I just answered the question of why it didn’t make more money.

    • Exactly why, my friend. The mainstream audience didn’t really seem to care for an old-school, gamer flick. They want new, big, and loud! Or something along those lines.

  10. Great review. And boy to you love Edgar Wright. Great points about Brandon Routh, and definietly agree that Culkin hit it out of the park.

    This is an overlooked cult-classic that I hope grows in popularity with age.

  11. I love that you reviewed this movie for a few reasons…
    1) you are now my go-to blog when I want to see a movie. I totally agree with your taste 99% of the time.
    2) this movie was soooo good. While I am not much of a “gamer” these days, I feel like I was raised on Nintendo, so I understood all of the gaming references as this movie had a real old school feel to it. I loved the images, the music, the acting…well…yeah…

    I don’t have anything to add to what you said, I’m just glad that you wrote another rad review that I agree with!

  12. I may be late to the party but I dont care Im going to comment anyways. I too love this movie, and I love all the 8 bit video game refferences in this. To Me Ramona Flowers was like a lot of girls who had to be saved in videogames. Your not quite sure why the hero has to save her but you go along with it. Seriously why did Link or Mario go through all that trouble to save the princess. Same thing goes for Ramona. Besides her good looks she really had nothing going on that would make me wanna save her but I would still do it because that’s part of the game and I want more gold coins

  13. As a gamer and a comic book fan I took to this movie immediately. I’m glad you did too. Scott Pilgrim is funny, action-packed, makes some hilarious video game references, and has Wright’s famous manic energy. I love its cast and its battle sequences that combine video game style fighting and rock n’ roll contests. Plus the music that they made for the film is pretty kick-ass and the cast is top-notch. Brandon Routh and Chris Evans make great villains. I hadn’t read the comic books the movie is based on until long after seeing it for the first time, but I have to say I came to appreciate the movie even more after doing so. Wright does an amazing job condensing the best parts of the comics into a tight, cohesive story that keeps you interested from start to finish. Unfortunately I think this movie suffers because it’s geared toward such a niche audience. That’s why I think it didn’t do so great at the box office when it came out: the average person wouldn’t understand it. Great review Dan.

  14. […] Dan The Man Movie Reviews takes a look at one of my favorite films from one of my favorite working directors. Review Quote: “I’ve never considered myself a full-fledged “gamer” of sorts, but this movie made me feel like I was watching one on screen, and a very fun and hilarious one at that.” Read his review for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. […]

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