You know, not all films make me want to insert a pneumatic drill into my head and stab at my brain until my vision goes and I start smelling sounds. No, sometimes I actually quite enjoy them. One such example is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, an action comedy fantasy about struggling to get over your partner’s past, even though you’ve been with enough people to incubate a cocktail of STDs. In fact, it’s one of my all-time favourites. It’s one of the few films that really manages to tap into the nostalgia of the gaming world, as well as accurately portraying the agony of dating when you’re a total fucking loser.
Adapted from Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel series and directed by Edgar Wright – the man responsible for Hot Fuzz, a perfect comedy that should be watched every Sunday instead of going to church – Scott Pilgrim vs. the World conveniently follows the character of Scott Pilgrim. He’s a scrawny man-child band member, obviously played by Michael Cera, who likes to date every single girl he meets, so he can presumably keep a heat map of the places he deposits his splooge.
Experiencing a new low after being dumped by his impossibly perfect ex, a successful singer played by Brie Larson, Scott resorts to dating an impossibly perfect Asian girl (Ellen Wong), who wears a skirt and goes to Catholic school, like the ones in your search history. But he soon gets bored of her when he meets Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), an even more impossibly perfect girl with an exploded highlighter for hair. She has that I-don’t-give-a-fuck-about-anything-I’m-just-going-to-stand-in-the-corner-and-act-like-death-would-be-prefferable look about her, which is obviously extremely desirable. But in order to date her, Scott has to defeat her seven evil exes in Tekken-style fights, while not allowing her questionable past to put him off the thought of her twat.
Of course, the fights are a metaphorical manifestation of Scott’s insecurities. If you didn’t pick up on that you must be a pleb. He’s having to come to terms with her emotional baggage, and that’s depicted by having him punch each of her exes out of existence, like an extremely hands-on psychiatrist. It’s probably the most accurate interpretation of dating anxiety ever. Just the other day I got into a scrap with one of my girlfriend’s previous partners. He was six-foot-four, but I lifted him into the air using my telekinesis and then kicked him into a bin.
Oh yeah, that’s the thing about the action in this film: it borrows its physics from the computer game and comic book worlds, meaning most of them have superpowers or at least jump around like they think they do. This is all illustrated with classic 8-bit game effects and onomatopoeic phrases popping up on the screen, like adverts on your virus-riddled computer. They’re the ideal aesthetics for Edgar Wright’s directing style, which sees him cut everything together at an incredibly fast pace, as if to accommodate his audience with quicker processing skills.
The geeky gamer references reach a whole new level in the film’s final act – quite literally. Scott reaches the boss level. He must defeat Ramona’s biggest ex (five-foot-five Jason Schwartzman) with the help of a downloadable content sword and some multiplayer dance mat moves. If all this sounds extremely niche, that’s probably why it didn’t do too well at the box office. But that’s OK. Everyone belonging to its cult following, including myself, can continue to watch it in their darkened rooms while guzzling energy drinks, getting all nostalgic about Zelda and excitedly fondling their joysticks.
Five out of five.