Weekend Review: Scott Pilgrim vs the World

Bryan Lee O’Malley’s oddball graphic novel series became a film last year, one of those cool little pictures destined to do far better at home than in the theatre.
It’s about this, like, 23-year old slacker who finds the girl of his dreams—and must battle her seven evil exes.

Title: Scott Pilgrim Conquers the World

Available at Amazon.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Directed by Edgar Wright
Written by Edgar Wright, Michael Becall and Bryan Lee O’Malley.


Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona Flowers
Kieran Culkin as Wallace Wells
Ellen Wong as Knives Chau
Jason Schwartzman as Gideon Graves
Alison Pill as Kim Pine
Mark Webber as Stephen Stills
Johnny Simmons as Young Neil
Anna Kendrick as Stacey Pilgrim
Aubrey Plaza as Julie Powers
Chris Evans as Lucas Lee
Brie Larson as Envy Adams
Mae Whitman as Roxy Richter
Satya Bhabha as Matthew Patel
Ben Lewis as Other Scott

Full Cast and Crew information is here.


All relationships come with baggage. Ramona Flowers comes with seven evil exes, all intent on killing her new beau, Scott Pilgrim, an aimless but likeable doofus with sweet fighting skillz. He also comes with some relationship complications of his own.

High Points:

The film establishes a slightly off-kilter tone from the start, translating some of the graphic novel’s gags directly, while adding elements of its own, to let the audience know the film’s understanding of reality differs from ours.

We careen completely into that difference when we meet Matthew Patel—and at that point, you’re either with this film, or you’re not likely going to enjoy the rest.

Once you get past the silliness that drives most of Scott Pilgrim, you realize the film actually comments with some intelligence on relationships, and on the computerized world that the current generation inhabits. It’s glitzy, fun, and filled with pushbutton convenience—but it hasn’t made better people, it doesn’t give useful direction, and it often blunts our understanding of others.

Low Points:

The graphic novel does aspects of this story better. Maybe that’s not a fair comparison, but it has to be said. Where the film fails is in aspects of character. I understand Scott’s problematic success with women in the graphic novels; here, I don’t quite get it. Cera and Winstead have chemistry, but I don’t see what makes her fall for him after initially dismissing him. Ellen Wong as Knives Chau takes us on a great journey from running joke to credible character, but she never becomes the realized human being of the books. Scott Pilgrim has enough substance under its style that I wish the human element had been a little clearer.

The Scores:

Originality: 5/6 We have a strange film, adapted from another source, influenced and informed by a thousand other things, but unlike anything previously on the big or small screen.

Effects: 5/6

Story: 4/6 Pilgrim takes us on a videogame quest. We’re carried by performances, objectives, and style, not plot-logic.

Acting: 5/6 I think this film had to star either Michael Cera or Jesse Eisenberg. We have a skilled cast that understands the material, and convinced me to enjoy the film no matter how ridiculous its twists and turns.

Production: 5/6 Rarely has Toronto looked like so much fun.

Emotional Response: 5/6 The film is uneven, but well worth watching as basic entertainment.

Overall: 5/6

In total, Scott Pilgrim Conquers the World receives 34/42.

My review of the original graphic novels finishes next week.

7 replies on “Weekend Review: Scott Pilgrim vs the World”

  1. I think the movie was okay, but not quite 34/42. I’d give it more of an average rating, say 21/42.

    Got it from the library on DVD, and I’m glad I didn’t spend any money on it. Maybe it would’ve been better if I was familiar with the comic.

    • 50% is average?

      For what it’s worth, I read the graphic novels because I liked the movie. Mind you, I signed them out of my library rather than buy them, so that’s saying something as well.

      Although I enjoyed it, there’s no question that most of the people I’ve met who love this film tend to be closer to Pilgrim’s age, so that may be a factor, too.

      • Yes, 50% is average. I tend to rank movies and books on something akin to a bell curve centered around 5/10. “Okay” movies tend to score right around 5, good movies may get a 6 or 7, and exceptional ones score higher. Poor movies get a 3 or 4, and really bad ones score below 3, all the way down to zero. Also, for anything to actually score a 10 means I liked it so much that I bought it.

        The problem with the really bad movies is that I usually don’t finish them, and am not able to accurately assign a rating because I didn’t watch the whole thing.

        • The Bureau’s bullet point format really makes the cumulative score secondary. If you value Story over Production for example you can make a better judgement call based on your personal tastes.

          I’ve always appreciated the format here and it’s the only reason the site stays in my Favorites Bar despite having become a husk of its former glory(I kid… I kid…).

          • I covered the panel-for-panel thing in my review of the first three graphic novels and, yeah, I wondered long and hard (okay, a few more moments than usual) about that originality score. I find the results fairly original to cinema, and I didn’t want the score to dip too low, because I enjoyed this film.

            I’ll discuss the ending when I review the final three graphic novels. Finest Hour hadn’t been completed when they were scripting the film, so the movie naturally deviates the most here. O’Malley’s also paced it in a way that really suits a graphic novel, but I suspect would drag on film.

            Glad you keep coming back. Where everybody knows your name, and all that.

            And this entire response makes more sense if you read both of octa’s last comments. Wrong placement. Oops.

  2. I had never read the comic and still found the movie highly enjoyable. It looked great, had a lot of good humor, and quite a few memorable scenes (Vegan Police, anyone?). It’s definitely a movie that if you aren’t really into it by the first battle, will probably leave you disappointed.

    I had it in my queue to rent, and liked it, and then eventually found it on sale on Blu-Ray (It was something like $5-10).

  3. I caught this in the theatres and loved every moment. I had always meant to read the comics but for one reason or another didn’t have the chance.

    I burned through the volumes in a day a week prior to the movie’s release, so of course the comic was fresh in my mind. I think the score for “Originality” should have been docked a few points since they had shots that were panel for panel straight from the comic. The characters were spot on for the most part but I actually think Michael Cera was the weakest of the bunch.

    They changed the ending quite a bit but the overall resolution was the same.

    If I had to guess I think the world of Scott Pilgrim will be re-visited by its author at some point. I look forward to it. It is rare to be entertained by something that is so unique and lovingly crafted.

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