Like the six-partcult comic series it’s based on, Scott Pilgrim vs. the. World, takes place on the smog-filled streets of T.O. But unlike most movies shot here, it doesn’t try to hide our landmarks with fake signs or subtle blurs. When they walk by Honest Ed’s, we see the obnoxious lights and punny advertisements in their full, embarrassingly comforting glory. When they hit up Pizza Pizza, we can tell which intersection it’s at. When they take the public transit, we know they’re on the TTC. And when they go to Casa Loma, everyone tells you it’s Casa Loma. The Hogtown love can be bit too much sometimes (think blatant CN Tower cameo) but most of the time it’s just flattering. And trippy. Especially when you walk out of the theatre and see these places manifest right in front of you again.
But you really don’t have to be from Canada to get a kick out of Scott Pilgrim. Although, you might have to fit a certain age bracket. Wright has crafted a near-perfect early 90s throwback, a nostalgia piece perfect for the pre-ADD generation, who remember the days when video games weren’t as high-tech and cool as we wanted it to be and that was more than okay. Like the opening, when the Universal logo gets pixelated to look like it’s straight out of an old-school Nintendo game. It’s surprising and awesome, but also hard to appreciate if you didn’t grow up with a gaming system for a best friend.
Then again, there is so much going on in Scott Pilgrim, it’s hard to focus on any particular joke, visual or plot point long enough to think that hard about it. The story is straight-forward – Scott (Michael Cera) falls hard for a bright-haired alterna-girl named Ramona (Mary Stuart Winstead) -and finds out that in order to get to her heart, he has to physically defeat every one of her seven exes, including Superman (er, Brandon Routh with a bad dye job), Chris Evans, Jason Schwartzman and her (I mean, Egg. I mean, Ann!) – and constantly engaging, save for the last fight scene, in which Scott takes on the film’s Big Bad Boss, which is too long, even for a finale. And the cast features some of the most talented young actors out there today (Oscar-nominee Anna Kendrick,, Rory Culkin (Igby Goes Down), Alison Pill (Milk), Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) – just to name a few ) – all of which are charming in that slacker, Ethan-Hawke-in-Reality-Bites kind of way. Although the writing and acting are solid (and superbly self-deprecating), the most impressive part of Scott Pilgrim is undoubtedly the visuals.
Looks wise, Scott Pilgrim is a dorky mutt, the result of a hot night in with the most manic manga you can find and the shittiest Street Fighter machine in the arcade. It could have easily been done in 3D, but Wright, being the geek god that he is, is too cool for that. He goes for the standard dual-dimension treatment and manages to brings us the most insanely interactive flick in years.
Using graphic novel staples like panel-crossing onomatopoeias, random thought bubbles and bubblegum-toned graphics, Wright playfully shoves Scott Pilgrim’s precious little post-adolescent life in our faces, creating what can only be referred to as a pop cultural equivalent of Pop Rocks, exploding with tastefully artificial energy and startling deliciousness. And I don’t know about you, but I love me some Pop Rocks. A