Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

(Reviewed August 5, 2010, by James Dawson)

This movie is so insanely fun, wildly creative, cool, smart and good-looking that you'll wish you could fight seven badasses to make it your girlfriend.

Director/coscreenwriter Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead," "Hot Fuzz") proves again that he's one of the most visually dazzling and consistently entertaining filmmakers who ever shot a whiptake or a crash zoom. Stripped to its essentials, "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" is about a 20-something indie-band bass player (Michael Cera) who has to fight a would-be girlfriend's seven exes for her favors. But the movie—very faithfully based on the comic-book series by writer/artist Bryan Lee O'Malley—packs so many terrific characters and laugh-out-loud scenarios amid the videogame-style action sequences that watching it is pleasantly overwhelming. Wright and coscreenwriter Michael Bacall have crammed so much non-stop nonsense into the script that it feels like at least three movies condensed into one two-hour sensory overload.

Cera is swell as the amiably self-centered Scott, a 22-year-old slacker whose 17-year-old current girlfriend Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) is his band's biggest fan. Scott shares an apartment with a cheerfully unrepentant backstabber (Kieran Culkin) who manages to text Scott's secrets to friends even while passed out. Scott's bossy little sister is played by the always delightfully uptight Anna Kendrick, and her ridiculously angry and foulmouthed coffee-shop coworker Julie is embodied by the hilariously intense Aubrey Plaza. (A great Julie line: "The girl that kicked your heart in the ass is walking the streets of Toronto.")

Mary Elizabeth Winstead is Ramona Flowers, the imperturbable object of Scott's infatuation. Her "League of Seven Evil Exes" (yes, they do call themselves that) include former Superman Brandon Routh, future Captain America Chris Evans and former Max Fischer Jason Schwartzman. Their cartoonish battles with Scott are increasingly intense, ranging from martial-arts street mayhem to an onstage "bass battle" to a disco pyramid swordfight, and hero beatdowns have never been so much fun. The defeated, in true arcade fashion, turn into showers of gold coins.

What's not to like about a movie in which one of Scott's opponents tells Ramona, "Your BF's about to get F'ed in the B?"

Possibly the best movie of the summer, "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" is guaranteed to make my 10 Best of 2010 list.

In other words: GO!

Back Row Reviews Grade: A

To read my transcript of a press-junket roundtable interview with Scott Pilgrim creator/writer/artist Bryan Lee O'Malley and the movie's co-screenwriter Michael Bacall that took place on July 27, 2010, at Universal Studios, use the link below:

Bryan Lee O'Malley & Michael Bacall Interview