Five years ago today, on 13th August 2010, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – Edgar Wright’s cinematic adaptation of the Brian Lee O’Malley comic books – was released in the US.
The film and books tell the story of Mr. Pilgrim (Michael Cera), a 22-year old Canadian slacker who plays in a band called Sex Bob-Omb. His life is small and relaxed, until he runs into Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the literal girl of his dreams. When he pursues her, she reveals that if they are to date he will have to fight Ramona’s 7 Evil Exes. Juggling his new relationship, his old ones, his few responsibilities and incoming battles, Scott has to get a life to win control of his.
Described by Wright himself as a musical – but where characters fight in grand, heightened battles to express their emotions, instead of singing – the film has become something of a cult hit. Unlike Wright’s other films, Simon Pegg had no involvement, and there are no British locations. It remains his highest budgeted film to date, costing an estimated $60,000,000. However, the film was unable to perform as sufficiently at the Box Office, making a paltry £1,604,545 in the UK.
Drawing, just as the books do, from video game iconography and rules, Wright’s visual style suits the film brilliantly, with visual jokes and clever edits being key parts of the picture. The fights are comedic, creative treats – with one involving Ramona using Scott as a puppet because he refuses to hit a girl. What makes the film really interesting however is how the characters are drawn. Cera’s performance as Scott is understated yet charming, and after repeat viewings, it is easy to see exactly what his problem is. He’s careless. He is hilariously unaware of his own actions in the past, and often self-involved, yet lacks a lot of self-esteem. It skewers a lot of the tropes of the characters he was known for playing at the time, whilst on the surface appearing to be all of them at once.
This film belongs to more than just Cera however. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is utterly charming as Ramona, crafting one of the best twenty-something female characters of recent memory. A pre-Captain America Chris Evans almost steals the show with a 5-minute performance as one of Ramona’s exes, while actresses like Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza (who are now significantly more popular than they were five years ago), showcase a lot of talent with their precious few minutes of screen-time.
But above all else, this wildly inventive and faithful adaptation (more in terms of spirit than plot), belongs to Wright himself. In its trailers alone, his unique touch can be seen and heard in every second. See exactly what we mean by this below.