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Double Negative

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World


Issue: "Warrior class," Aug. 28, 2010

Watching Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a little like the dreams you might have if you fell asleep playing Nintendo and reading comic books on the couch next to your high-school girlfriend. It's about young love, video games, finding a job, comic books, genuine maturity, and cartoons. And it's funny.

Director Edgar Wright has been around the buddy-comedy block, and none of his films take themselves very seriously. Since it's a comedy about directionless contemporary young people, Scott Pilgrim also doesn't take sex very seriously-though there's no nudity in the PG-13 film, and not much swearing, either. The violence is one of the movie's high points-Scott, both a jobless slacker and a video-game-type superhero, gets into fistfights with enemies who explode into coins rather than shedding blood.

These villains are the seven evil exes of Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the object of Scott's affections and dater of some serious losers. The movie's various creeps correspond to every would-be boyfriend's worst nightmares (a movie star, a cool music producer, a super-tough vegan musician) and give the film some of the funniest, strangest fight sequences ever committed to celluloid.

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But the point of Scott Pilgrim is less that Scott is a superhero who will get the girl, and more that he's a bit of a loser himself and needs to overcome his own laziness to get ahead. This is dramatized much more clearly and movingly in the graphic novel series from which the film was adapted. In the movie, for example, Scott gets a neat-looking sword when he earns "The Power of Self-Respect!" In the books, he gets the sword when he earns "The Power of Understanding" and realizes that he's not as different as he'd like from Ramona's meanest ex-boyfriend.

The movie makes up for its lack of depth with some wonderful performances, notably Michael Cera as Scott and Kieran Culkin as his catty gay roommate. Few folks in this film are living lives that Christians are called to lead, but most of us can relate to falling short of our calling. For these characters, the power of understanding might not be a bad place to start.


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