Video games are rarely talked about in the movie world. When they are, it’s usually with contempt. Most adaptations of hit games are mind numbingly bad and Roger Ebert writes video games off as nothing more than worthless entertainment, arguing that they can never be art. I wonder what he’ll think about Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, a film that can only be described as a video game movie that isn’t based on a video game. From the 8-bit Universal logo (complete with Nintendo music circa 1985) to the numerous nods to hit franchises like “Rock Band” and “Super Mario Brothers,” this thing screams video games, and being a gamer myself, I found it quite enjoyable.
Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim, a young Canadian who falls for a cutie named Ramona Flowers, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, but to date her he must first defeat her seven evil exes. That’s the whole thing in a nutshell. It’s a simple story, as it needed to be, and it’s carried out with wit and style. Scott Pilgrim is a hyperkinetic, off-the-wall, roller coaster of a movie. It speedily moves forward with nary a downtime. However, it doesn’t always move with grace.
The tagline for Scott Pilgrim is, “An epic of epic epicness.” That’s a lot to live up to and, frankly, it falls short of its promised epic epicness, far short. Due to its quick pace, things get a bit hectic, even during dialogue driven scenes, and the film tries way too hard to be quirky and zany. The madcap nature of the movie goes off the rails at times, deviating away from its video game inspiration and traversing into territory that seems forced, even going so far as to use the “Seinfeld” musical sting and a laugh track in one scene.
There’s also Michael Cera who, despite the originality of the material, plays the same awkward, clumsy loser he’s been playing since “Arrested Development,” but all of that is easy to forgive given the energy of the production. While the story revolves around Scott battling seven evil exes, the fights never become redundant. All are varied and have their own unique style. This is a video game brought to life.
And those who play video games will undoubtedly get the most out of it. It may mean nothing to the average moviegoer, but to gamers, hearing the bass line from “Final Fantasy II” will bring a tear to the eye and knowing that the name of Scott Pilgrim’s band, Sex Bob-omb, is a reference to the little walking bombs in the “Mario” games will make them feel special, as they should. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is nerd service, made for nerds by nerds. And I mean that in a good way.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World receives 3.5/5