Reviewed Jun 21, 2012
Adam Goron’s review:
Kids these days.
I tell ya, they don't know which end is up.
They got their X-Boxes and their Red Bull, they got their hard drives and their iPads packed with music and films. comics and books, they got their GPS' and their MyBook, or their FaceSpace, or whatever. Also, Twitter. They got Twitter real good.
What they don't have is attention spans. They're jittery. They live in a constant state of overstimulation. It's no wonder they can't handle love. That last part, by the way, is nothing new - and that's what makes Scott Pilgrim VS The World work. Beyond all the visual interrobangs and cultural microreferencing, Scott Pilgrim VS The World functions perfectly because at its core, it's steadfastly devoted to the defining catch-22 of youth: that our yearning to non-platonically love and be loved emerges precisely at the same time when we realize that we have no idea who we are, and are thus incapable of truly loving or being loved. I'd call this a phase, but the truth is, some people never grow out of it. Of course, most people do - it's hard to be a stranger to yourself forever, after all - and for some of them to break free, it might take drastic measures, like getting your face smashed in. Repeatedly. Enter Scott Pilgrim.
Scott Pilgrim's story is one of almost comic linearity, and it's matched only by its hastily broadstroked ensemble of characters. All of this is not only appropriate, but absolutely necessary - this is a film that's slavishly devoted to 2D; anything that could transcend that horizontal focus would be tantamount to heresy. It took some serious guts for Edgar Wright to make this film the way he did, and even more guts for the execs at Universal to help him see this thing through to the end (they paid a price for it - Scott Pilgrim was something of a box office bomb, and Universal lost about $15 million on it). Quite frankly. films as unique and brilliant as this rarely get made any more. Rather than simply adapt the Scott Pilgrim comics in a traditional, by-the-numbers fashion, Wright has slyly - and successfully - adapted the comics into not a film, but a video game. A video game that you watch. And not some newfangled Gears of War 12: Revenge of the Gears video game either. No - we're talking a 1990s Super Nintendo sidescroller, a "go right and crush whatever's in your path" type of video game. In essence, Wright has achieved some kind of artistic transformational miracle with Scott Pilgrim: he's taken a story from a comparatively static medium, adapted it for a lively visual medium, and presented it to us in the style of a limited visual medium. Comic. Film. Game. All as one. Simultaneously. Simply brilliant.
Everything in Scott Pilgrim exists in a state of arrested development (pun intended). It might not be the 1990s anymore, but everything in this film is sure hanging on to that era with all it's got, be it from the grungy indie soundtrack, to the presence of actual video arcades and record stores (gasp!), to the boxy beige computers, to the irreverent use of the Seinfeld bassline, the Zelda notifications, the "You've Got Mail!" alert - not to mention the gleeful deluge of one-liners - to smaller touches, like the telephones (I didn't notice this until rewatching the film for perhaps the 6th or 7th time last night, but there's no iPhones or smartphones anywhere here - the cellphones are all the blue-neon Nokia kind, or the old-school flip phones, there's multiple uses of payphones, and Scott and Wallace's phone is a cordless rotary hybrid - wild!). It's an experience brimming with witty minutiae and meticulous detail, and one that will certainly reward multiple viewings.
If there's one thing to take away from all this, it's that Scott Pilgrim is a raging hurricane of 1990s nostalgia. A large portion of the hyperstimulated twentysomethings of today cut their teeth on the emerging cultural wellsprings that Scott Pilgrim worships. But there are drawbacks with a ludicrously incredible/incredibly ludicrous focus; it must be said that some people just won't connect with the film. It's a fact that Scott Pilgrim's boundlessly enthusiastic specificity demands by way of its own existence. And that's fine. But if you got it then, you'll get it now, as the saying goes, and if you ever rocked out to the Smashing Pumpkins or Hole, if you ever waited in line at the arcade to play Street Fighter II or begged your parents to take you to Funcoland, or if you ever set your alarm to wake up early on Saturday morning for a cartoon-a-thon, then get yer mitts on a copy of Scott Pilgrim VS The World.
But don't press play. Press start.