Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World ★★★★★

I saw this movie for the first time as a sophomore in college and immediately loved it from the get-go, just as soon as a pixelated version of the Universal logo appeared on screen with an 8-bit cover of the Universal fanfare behind it. I grew up with video games, and Edgar Wright absolutely packed this film with references that are enjoyable for someone who knows what they are, but it's also perfectly possible to watch the film having never played a video game and not miss anything important. The storyline really appealed to me the first time I watched it as well, with its relateable trials of young adult romantic angst blown up to comic book proportions and put to a comedically exaggerated scale, as Scott must not only deal with the baggage of his new partner's past relationships but literally defeat her previous lovers in combat. Having now seen this movie probably 10+ times since 2012, and having read the books, I think the story still works fine and has a few genuinely impactful moments, but I do think the books convey the story and the themes of self-respect and the sustained mutual effort it takes to carry on a healthy relationship in a much clearer and more complete way, and in a way that fleshes out its characters more. In other words, if you're a fan of the film, I highly recommend the books.
Story aside, I love the acting, which is frequently goofy and melodramatic and features an astonishing number of big names, most of whom are playing hilarious bit roles, like Chris Evans as a douchey skater/actor, Aubrey Plaza as an Aubrey Plaza character, Allison Pill as a deadpan snarker, and Anna Kendrick as Scott's younger sister. Just as entertaining are some of the roles from actors I'm less familiar with, particularly Keiran Culkin as Scott's snide roommate, Mark Webber as Scott's bandleader, and Johnny Simmons as their friend Young Neal, a character who gets funnier to me every time I watch this movie. Almost every line of dialogue in this is funny and memorable, although some, I recognize, tend a little towards the 'put this on a t-shirt and sell it at Hot Topic' brand of 2000s internet humor. Similar to Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead, this movie is still endlessly quoteable and snappy.
Visually, it does have Wright's flair for rapid cuts and visual comedy, but it goes beyond the Three Flavors Cornetto films in its dedication to making this feel like a film of a comic book - in fact, it feels more like a comic book movie than plenty of Marvel and DC movies that I've seen. Lots of shots completely abandon the physical world for the purpose of recreating a memorable visual from Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novels, and the film makes constant use of splitscreen and of text and text boxes popping in to fill us in on a new character or set the mood of a scene (or to get in a joke). Visually, this is my favorite Edgar Wright film, and on all counts it does slightly edge out Hot Fuzz, my close second favorite. The set design and special effects just work so well to create excellent action sequences, crazy dream sequences, and, like I said, to create the feeling of a visual comic book. Nigel Godrich's score is also stellar, with some arrangements of beloved old video game tunes as well as some great original music that fits the film's tone very well.
I don't think this is a perfect movie and I think a lot of viewers will probably like Hot Fuzz the best of Wright's films, but it's my favorite Edgar Wright film and, in fact, my second favorite movie of all time. It's endlessly rewatchable to me and one that I will probably still be making friends who haven't seen it before sit down and watch with me.

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