Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a fun, funny mash-up of movie, comic book and video game sensibilities. The story combines a romantic comedy with a fighting video game, and the film just runs full-tilt with the idea.
Every new relationship comes with baggage. In this case, the baggage happens to be Ramona Flowers’ seven evil exes, who all want to fight Scott Pilgrim if he’s going to date her. Fights are staged like video games, with “X vs Y” captions, physics-defying moves and special powers, and defeated opponents transforming into coins. Caption boxes provide extra information. Flashbacks are illustrated in comic-strip form.
Its biggest flaw, IMO, is that it tries so hard to fit all the battles into one movie that it forgets to slow down and show us that Scott and Ramona actually like each other (most of the time). There’s no real sense of time, and it feels like the whole thing could happen in a week. So when the supporting cast starts asking Scott whether being with Ramona is really worth all the effort, it’s a good question, one that makes the ultimate ending a bit less satisfying than the one in the original graphic novels.
The original comics tell the story over six volumes, which take place over roughly a year. Obviously side characters are developed a lot more. More importantly for the lead story, Ramona is developed a lot more, and you get to see the two of them dealing with an actual relationship, rather than simply “You’re hot, wanna go out?” “Oh, okay.” You get much more of a sense that the fights mean something. The later volumes also focus heavily on people growing up and growing apart, something which there really isn’t time for in the movie.
The movie is great fun. If you liked it, I absolutely recommend picking up the graphic novels. If you liked the idea, but not the execution, or if you can’t stand Michael Cera (I know that’s a consideration for some people, and I had my doubts when I heard that he’d been cast in the role), I recommend picking up the first volume or two to give it a try.