“FAN SERVICE: A vaguely defined term primarily used for any gratuitous content included in some form of entertainment primarily to please a core group of fans.” —Wikipedia.org
Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World is Fan Service: The Movie, an insular, punishingly alienating experience preaching only to the faithful, devoted hearts of arrested 12-year-old boys. It’s singularly fixated on video games and shallow visions of women as one-dimensional objects to be either obtained or discarded and offers no possible point of entry to anybody over the age of 30.
Tricked out with a relentless barrage of gimmicky visuals, like the soaring large-print sound-effect text messages that constantly splinter the screen as if in a cartoon, director Edgar Wright’s headache-inducing, ADD-addled adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s beloved series of comic books pits our titular twerp (lamely played by Michael Cera within his singular note of tiresome twee-ness) against new girlfriend Ramona Flowers’ Seven Evil Exes.
The concept is ripe with metaphor, as at the outset of any relationship, most partners face an uphill battle against the memories of those who came before. Alas, Wright spends no time exploring this particular vein, instead choosing to clog the film with a relentless barrage of long-form, CGI-enhanced PlayStation battle sequences. It’s all meek Cera kicking butts and performing impossible stunts with Super Mario Brothers sound effects—which is funny for approximately 15 seconds.
Unfortunately, we get to watch the same overlong fight scene six times in a row. (Thank god two of the Evil Exes are twins and double up.)
But the biggest problem is that Scott Pilgrim is a heel, leading on and cheating on his dim-bulb underage girlfriend (who is Asian and quite unamusingly named Knives Chau, because that’s not offensive at all) while he chases after snot-nosed Ramona. Neither of the lovebirds is remotely interesting, nor do they have jobs, nor even anything interesting to say.
The movie is too lazy to even show Scott and Ramona falling for each other, and resorts to quicksilver montage. Instead, there’s scene after scene of Scott Pilgrim’s incongruous physical prowess in increasingly bizarre Mortal Kombat scenarios, but there’s never any reason to root for him or the love story at the heart of the plot. It’s all a wankoff fanboy wish fulfillment, telling scrawny losers that it’s OK to treat their women like shit if something “better” comes around. The only thing Scott Pilgrim vs. the World proves is that nerds can be just as shallow and mean-spirited as bullies.
Knives Chau deserved better.