There’s nothing more thrilling than the rush of nerdgasmic energy flowing through a theater of geeks sitting elbow-to-elbow during the showing of a midnight movie. It starts with the pre-show buzz ("Have you read Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour yet?"), carries through the trailers ("I hope they show the Potter teaser!"), ramps up in the opening sequence ("An 8-bit Universal logo with an Atari-rendered theme song!"), and hums the length of the whole movie, credits to credits. I added my voice to the raucous cheers of every other nerd in my theater every time Scott Pilgrim defeated an evil ex in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
(And there’s your review disclaimer, geek-to-reader.)
AfterElton thought Scott Pilgrim was as fun as watching someone else play a video game. I thought it was as fun as the day my dad brought home Super Mario Bros. 3 for my NES. (I played for two straight weeks without pausing.)
If you haven’t been hit by Scott Pilgrim‘s viral marketing, you’ve been living in an underground bunker (how do you survive down there without wi-fi?!), but here’s the pith of the story for the uninitiated: Scott Pilgrim is a jobless twenty-something who splits his time between his band, The Sex-bob-ombs; his high school girlfriend, Knives Chau; and his gay roommate, Wallace. Scott lacks any kind of ambition until he meets Ramona Flowers, the literal girl of his dreams. Unfortunately, her baggage is more amplified than most chicks’; if he wants to date her, he has to defeat all seven of her evil exes — including her lesbian ex-girlfriend, Roxy Richer.
But it’s not the story that makes Scott Pilgrim so spectacular; it’s the way director Edgar Wright tells the story. "Highly-stylized" is the industry in-phrase right now, but that’s sometimes just code for sensory overload. In this case, though, it means that Wright has managed to mash-up the precise feel of Bryan Lee O’Malley‘s graphic novels with the nostalgic look of your favorite video games. It’s some kind of wonderful.
Almost as impressive as the look of the movie is the way the supporting female cast really steals the show (not an easy feat considering the big names who fill the shoes of Ramona’s ex-boyfriends). Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a little bit magical as Ramona Flowers, with her soulful eyes and circus-colored hair. Ellen Wong breathes sweetness and strength intp what could have been a one-dimensional camp portrayal of Knives Chau. Anna Kendrick is pitch-perfect as always as Stacey Pilgrim. And Aubrey Plaza is an absolute delight as the whimsically deadpan Julie Powers.
Then there’s Mae Whitman’s Roxy Richter. Ramona explains to a shocked Scott that Roxy was just a bi-curious phase. She "didn’t know it counted." But it sure as hell counted to Roxy, who calls Ramona a "hasbian" before trying to pummel her and Scott with her wicked ninja skills. It’s a superbly choreographed fight scene, with Ramona forcing Scott to fight back because he doesn’t want to hit a girl. It, erm, climaxes with a hilariously fatal blow — something Ramona remembers from all the time she spent making out with Roxy. The pre-fight smack talk is just as awesome, with Roxy soliloquizing (the way villains do), and Scott asking, "What’s that from?" And Roxy shouting back, "It’s from my brain!"
There’s also a pretty funny running "L Word" gag.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World isn’t for everyone. The loudest complaints I’ve heard are that the film’s concept is too arcane for anyone unschooled in geek-speak, that a Converse and novelty T-shirt wearing adult is an implausible hero, and that Michael Cera isn’t sexy. But as a comic-reading, Converse and t-shirt-wearing adult with no designs on shagging Michael Cera, I thought it was one of the best movies of the summer.
In fact, I’m kind of in lesbian with it.