Review: Me vs. Scott Pilgrim – would you let your daughter date a Pilgrim?
Scott Pilgrim is a prat – self-absorbed and selfish, a character who refracts everything through the prism of his own ego. That’s not Edgar Wright’s fault. The character’s emptiness is there in the original graphic novels, just like the unappealing smugness that floats around his dream girl Ramona Flowers before she suddenly transmogrifies into a piece of placid arm-candy for Gideon Graves.
I wanted to love Scott Pilgrim vs The World. The patina of geeky references laid down by Edgar Wright is dizzying and delicious (from the Street Fighter-style fight scenes to subtler nods to nerdy touchstones like SoulCalibur). But once you cut through the sugary cream of the visual styling, you’re left with characters that have nothing but surface and care only about themselves.
Scott uses the besotted 17-year-old Knives Chau to power-up his deflated ego and discards her like a banana skin in Mario Kart once he meets Ramona. He’s obsessed with what’s cool, his dialogue peppered with “or whatever”s. In the world of Scott Pilgrim, girls are like Xbox Live achievements to be obtained and then forgotten.
And then there’s Ramona. With her constantly changing hair and penchant for skating through a convenient portal in Scott’s brain, we’re meant to be as besotted by her as he is. But she’s boring and nowhere near as charming as Knives.
Scott Pilgrim works for lots of guys because they’ll look at the central character and see themselves: a manboy obstinately refusing to connect with reality. Sure the fight scenes are phenomenal, the soundtrack is brilliant but nothing endeared me to Scott Pilgrim. He’s as unpleasant as any of the evil exes, no matter how often Michael Cera pulls on his cute little hat or scrunches up his nose.
For all the dazzling unreality of Scott Pilgrim vs The World’s physics, those Day-Glo fight scenes and extra lives appearing in mid-air, the most unconvincing element of all is Scott’s appeal to women. He’s a geek everyman who says nothing and does nothing interesting outside of his unexplained ability to fight like a Mortal Kombat character.
Edgar Wright’s direction is undeniably brilliant but Scott Pilgrim vs The World has an underlying unpleasantness that the cutesy antics and ironic quips couldn’t cover up for me. Would I let my imaginary daughter date a Pilgrim? Not likely.