The plot of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is not what you would call complicated: a young man must defeat the former exes his new found love in order to win her heart. It’s not exactly Inception. But what has many hesitant about the film is the way it's influenced by video games. Certainly a culture of its own, gaming has an impact on the movie in many ways, apparent even from the opening production logo. There will be some sections of the mass audience that won’t even give the movie a chance because they don’t understand gaming, and, as Carmine Falcone says in Batman Begins, you always fear what you don’t understand.
Influence aside, however, Scott Pilgrim is not a movie about videogames and there is plenty here for everyone to love. Many of you may have already made up your mind, but allow me to help you change it. Here are five reasons non-gamers should be excited for Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Let me start by being up-front: there are things in the film that may go over some heads. If you’ve never played a game of Zelda before, you’re not going to recognize the theme song when it plays. But here's what matters: not only are the more obscure references few and far between, but they have absolutely zero impact on the plot. In reality, everything you need to know about videogames for this film was taught to you when you went over to your cousin’s house that one Saturday afternoon when you were 12 and played Super Mario World on their Super Nintendo. Enemies turn into coins when defeated? Check. Working up levels to face different bosses? Check. Collecting 1-Up tokens for an extra life? Check. Hell, even a version of “save the princess” is worked in. You don’t have to have the skills to defeat your friends in Halo or read the biography of Hiroshi Yamauchi to get this movie. Distant knowledge of the basics is more than enough.
If it wasn’t already clear from trailers that simply show Michael Cera being tossed around like a pair of dice, there is more than enough action in the film. Seriously, how else do you think Mr. Pilgrim is meant to take down the seven evil exes? Playing a game of checkers? It’s not even all left to the boys, either. Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ellen Wong do more than their fair share. What’s more, with Edgar Wright behind the camera, not only is there plenty of action but it is shot brilliantly. Just as we’ve seen in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Wright’s style has an incredible kinetic energy that simply lends itself to sucker punches and kung fu kicks, of which there are many in the world of Scott Pilgrim. There may not be a lot of muscles and guns like what you’ll see in The Expendables, but there is still plenty of kick-ass ass-kicking.
If the last paragraph was for the men, let this one be for the women. Scott Pilgrim is a movie with heart and a message that you should fight for the people and things you love. If the relationship between Scott and Ramona doesn’t work, then the movie doesn’t work, and the movie works perfectly. In between the fight scenes we really do get to watch the growth of the relationship between the two principal characters and it’s not exactly a fairy tale. Bad things are said and the relationship is questioned. There’s grief, obsession, paranoia, fear and pain. You know, like in any standard courtship. It’s not overly sentimental; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Every relationship has baggage, but as Scott so astutely points out, most people’s baggage doesn’t try and kill you every five seconds.
In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, music plays an incredibly important role, arguably a much more important role than videogames. Scott Pilgrim and his friends are in a band called Sex Bob-omb, more than a couple of the evil exes are musicians and fight scenes break out in the midst of concerts. What’s the good news from all this? Music is universal. What makes it even better? The soundtrack is incredible and will likely hold the rank “Best of 2010” come January 1st. A good cross section of the music, including the tracks by Sex Bob-omb, is performed by the actors who went into training to insure that they had the skills. But as enjoyable as those songs are, they don’t hold a candle to the song “Black Sheep,” performed by the band Metric in real life and Clash at Demonhead in the film (Clash at Demonhead has Scott’s ex-girlfriend as a lead singer and one of Ramona’s exes on bass). The movie ticket is cheaper than the soundtrack in almost all markets and the music is worth the price of admission alone.
Put aside the action, the romance, the music and the videogames. It’s important to acknowledge that at the sum of its parts Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a comedy and a fantastic one at that. With any other tone it would have been a complete waste of time, but considering I’m about to wrap up a list of five reasons why everyone should see it, you know that’s not the case. The writers don’t club you, stick your head in a toilet and flush while screaming, “LAUGH!” instead going the more subtle approach, knocking you over with wit and the occasional bit of slap stick. The banter between Scott Pilgrim and Brendan Routh’s character, Todd Ingram, is perfect and there are two cameos that you will beg your friends not to reveal (a quick message to such a friend: stop being a dick). It should be a surprise to anyone that at Edgar Wright film is funny, but it’s a much different kind of humor than what we’ve seen from his two previous films. So when one of those obscure videogame references pops up and you hear a giggle emanating from the seats behind you, don’t fear. There’s plenty more humor made just for you.