Depending on who you hang out with and what websites you frequent, "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" is either the most authentic coming-of-age love story that's ever been told about kids who grew up with 8-bit video games or a movie that will leave you screaming, "Death to hipsters!"
What else is there to say? To read through reviews of Edgar Wright's film is to understand how fully a critic's biography and aesthetic vision influence his or her writing. We bring our own personal baggage to the cinema, even if we all feed from the same bin of stale popcorn.
We've gathered together a few of these wildly divergent reviews. Before making up your mind about whether you're a "Scott Pilgrim" fan or hater, you can check out what the critics are saying. Or better yet, see the movie yourself, and then make up your mind.
"Over-explaining Scott Pilgrim's plot would take away from the Pop Rocks-exploding fun. Scott (Michael Cera) is the 22-year-old bassist for a mediocre Toronto punk band called Sex Bob-Omb. (Their songs, which I found a bit too realistically mediocre, were written by Beck.) Scott has a sassy gay roommate (Kieran Culkin), a meddling sister (Anna Kendrick), and a girlfriend, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), a Sex Bob-Omb superfan who's still in high school. But Scott falls hard when the purple-haired, poker-faced Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) moves to town. To win her, he must not only summon the courage to break up with Knives; he must defeat an evil legion of Ramona's seven exes, who include a vegan rock star (Brandon Routh), a Bollywood-dancing Goth (Satya Bhabha), and twin Japanese DJs (Shota and Keita Saito)." — Dana Stevens, Slate.
"The movie does everything its makers can dream up to imitate a manga: Screens split in half and then in half again. Action speeds up or slows down. Comic book word sounds — 'whoosh,' 'r-i-i-i-i-n-g,' 'thud' and the like — pepper the screen. Backstories about exes are told in rudimentary sketches. The movie frame becomes a graffiti zone where the filmmakers can insert all sorts of written commentary including the fact that a character has to pee." — Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter.
"As Pilgrim, Cera is more assertive and, yes, heroic than he has been in most of his work (though there is 'Youth in Revolt' to bear in mind). He's gone past the stammering gawkiness of his early work into something less adolescent, if not fully mature. The transformation hasn't reached a conclusion yet, but it's interesting to watch." — Shawn Levy, The Oregonian.
"Much of the movie's whacked-out humor is the work of the director. Wright's facility with eccentric ornamentation — bursts of canned laugh-track laughter, proudly cartoonish graphics, dreamscape enchantments and sudden split-screenery — is irresistibly endearing; and his whiz-bang editing is a marvel throughout. (He's always one step ahead of the viewer, suddenly taking us places we didn't realize we were ready to go to yet.) And the script, which he co-wrote, is a feast of deadpan throwaways. ('I've dabbled with being a bitch,' says Ramona. 'My brother is permanently enfeebled,' notes Stacey.)" — Kurt Loder, MTV News.
"The story and characters of 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,' then, are negligible. But fans of the novel aren't likely to care, reserving their most passionate interest for how director Edgar Wright has brought their precious antihero to the screen ... He dials 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' up to 11 within minutes, leaving him nowhere to take the narrative energy. Trippy onscreen titles ('Riiiing!' when a telephone rings, 'Dddddd' when someone plays the bass), Super Mario Bros. graphics, light saber duels, jump cuts, screen wipes, zingers, quips and doggerel — it's all played with the same emphasis and knowing insularity. Unless you can hear its particular whistle, 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' is a grind, as monotonous and enervating as one long, sneering in-joke." — Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post.
The Final Word
"There is plenty of [visual wit] in 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' — fast cuts, off-kilter puns, sight gags and sound effects in such profusion that you may want to see it again as soon as it's over. But underneath is a disarming sincerity and a remarkable willingness to acknowledge ambivalence, self-doubt, hurt feelings and all the other complications of youth. At the end, the movie comes home to the well-known territory of the coming-of-age story, with an account of lessons learned and conflicts resolved. But you'll swear you've never seen anything like it before." — A.O. Scott, The New York Times.
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