Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Kicks Its Ass

August 17, 2010

In early 2005, a college friend of mine lent me his copy of Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life. Its manga-like cartoony art turned me off at first, but by the halfway point I had grown to appreciate the comic’s fun, uniquely humorous and eccentric style. As a resident of Toronto, I was also delighted to see how so many of the city’s locations and landmarks were either referenced or featured in the comics.

The next year, the same friend invited me along on a trip to the Toronto Comic Art Festival at Old Vic College on our university campus. It was a chance to support our local comic artists and writers, as well as a chance for my friend to meet Bryan Lee O’Malley, the creator of Scott Pilgrim. I had become quite the fan at that point myself, and remember buying the first three volumes of Scott Pilgrim and getting a sketch of Knives Chau from O’Malley at his table. He signed my books and also threw in a copy of sketchbook prints.

Now in the summer of 2010, it was really neat to finally see the Scott Pilgrim comics actualized on the big screen in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Obviously, being a Toronto-native and a fan of the series, I’m biased and can hardly give an impartial  review, but I personally liked it a lot. Even my husband, coming from a more neutral background, found it entertaining albeit a little different and very strange.

For the most part, the movie’s tone stayed very loyal to the comics, though at the time I had not read Vol. 6 yet, which is latest and final installment that I just bought at the bookstore today. I was impressed at how the team was able to more or less fit the content of all six books into just under two hours, but the side effect was a very fast pace that made the movie feel like it had ADD. Because of this, I have a feeling that people unfamiliar with the series or story will either find Scott Pilgrim vs. the World a) irritating, or b) wonderfully refreshing, depending on your outlook.

Admittedly, a huge part of my enjoyment came from the down-to-earth depictions of the characters and the ability to relate to their situations. Gamer culture, geek culture and general pop culture feature heavily in both the comics and the movie, as well as a generous dose of the urban youth attitude and indie-rock scene that’s so unique to the city of Toronto. I still find it unsettling when I reread the books sometimes and come across parts that make me go, Wow, I actually know people JUST like that. Watching the movie was also a like a nice trip back to my home city. It brought a smile to my face to see signs for Pizza Pizza (my favorite place for pizza at 2am in the morning) or the inside of Lee’s Palace (saw a concert there once) and pretty much every single time I recognized a landmark like Honest Ed’s, Casa Loma or just about any other familiar street corner.

(By the way, Scott’s lament that $2.60 wouldn’t even be enough for the bus is true. Go to hell, Toronto Transit Commission, everyone knows TTC actually stands for “Take The Car/Cab.”)


  1. I really should go down to the local movie chain and see it, but I’m waiting for a pirated version because i don’t know a soul who wants to see it. I’ve seen movies by myself before but it really isn’t worth it.

    i don’t know why the book stores around here aren’t selling any scott pilgrim either, i’ve looked. gonna have to drive all the way downtown to strange adventures.

    • Not even Chapters/Indigo? Are you serious? Wow…maybe you’ll have luck at your local comic book store. The store I worked at always made sure we kept our Scott Pilgrim books in stock. For me, I found the 6th book easily today at the Barnes and Noble, but they only had one copy of vol. 5 and none of the earlier ones. Thank goodness I packed my entire collection and brought it with me, today I completed with my purchase of the last volume.

  2. Saw it and loved it! Being Canadian, the crowd cheered loudly when it first mentioned Toronto, Canada. The music was awesome and Wallace deserves a supporting actor academy award. He was so hilarious.
    PS I dont know if they showed this preview for you in the US but here they had one for Hockey the musical (with Olivia Newton John) the crowd cheered too..for a preview.

    • Haha, I wanted to cheer when they first mentioned Toronto (I also wanted to giggle when I saw the close up of the loonies and twonies on the floor!), but it would have been weird seeing that I was watching it in an NJ suburb. So unfortunately I didn’t get to see the preview you were talking about, I’ll have to look it up when I get the chance.

      So, no cheering for Canada where I was, but surprisingly the movie got applause when it ended, I love it when that happens 🙂

      And yes, Culkin was great as Wallace! And the girl that played Knives was also excellent!

  3. I really dug the movie, especially for its fight scenes! They were just the kind I like – fast, well choreographed, easy to follow, very limited slowdowns. And man, it must be sweet to have a work of heart so obviously be a love letter to your city; just another reason I wish I was Canadian.

    I just got the first volume of the comic myself, and I think that the bus toll is different between the movie and the comic – did rates go up between then and now?

    • Yeah, the fights were really well done! And yes, seeing Toronto so prominently featured in this film was very heartwarming for me…I mean, we get a lot of movies filmed in Toronto, but very rarely do they actually take place there (very often it stands in for New York 😛 ) so it was very special for me. You can bet I laughed out loud when Todd said, “Fun? In Toronto?” and Scott stands up and was all like “THAT’S IT!!!” lol

      And yes, the public transit fees went up this year. Last year it was $2.75, and since January it’s now $3. They were probably lower in 2004 too, when the first volume first came out, but I can’t remember what it was anymore (edit: just checked vol. 1, I guess it was $2.25 back then) Needless to say, seeing Scott and Ramona ride in a TTC bus made me feel happy and angry at the same time 😛

  4. Sounds like a lot of fun. I have been wanting to see it.

    • Definitely worth seeing if you’re looking for a fun ride 🙂

  5. i thought it looked so stupid through trailers and i had no interest in seeing it. but i keep hearing good things. and now one more positive review. but like somebody above said, i know absolutely nobody who would want to go watch it.

    • I guess you don’t keep in contact with Walter anymore, because I know he’d see it. And I don’t know what I’d think of the movie if I hadn’t read the comics, I’d probably still like it but think it was really weird.

  6. I loved it. I know beans about Toronto, but the teen angst/ love triangle/ video game references I all related too. The over the top fights were also just generally fun. Critics also adored it, Tomatometer 80% or so if I remember right. It’s like a big budget art house film, we won’t see another for a long time. I expect it to do much better on DVD than in theaters.

    • Glad you liked it. Its appeal is definitely in its charm, the way it makes you feel like you’re watching the comics or a video game come to life right in front of your eyes and they weren’t afraid to be funky or weird. I hope it the DVD sales will be good, I know it did well but not fantastically so at the box office. I’ll definitely be picking up a copy.

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