Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is an exotic multiplex confection – a romantic comedy with elements of its visual grammar swiped from comic books and videogames. It’s tempting to say that people who are sick of conventional Hollywood love stories will find a bracing alternative here but, unfortunately, Scott Pilgrim isn’t much of a love story, unless the affair you’re interested in is the one between a boy and his cultural totems. If that’s the case, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World should be hugely entertaining. It’s a visual knock-out with the sensibility of a pinball machine, caroming from one set piece to the next, turning on lights and spinning little flippy things and ringing bells. It’s not Speed Racer – it remains genuinely character-focused and never aims to overwhelm. But it’s playful, borrowing concepts like power-ups and extra lives from the RPGs and adventure games that have made them an intuitive part of a certain kind of narrative grammar for a generation.
I was never quite convinced that director David Gordon Green’s previous George Washington needed to be on my must-see list, nor am I convinced that I would have been any poorer a student of the films of the cinema if I hadn’t checked out this little romantic drama, one of the more acclaimed releases from a typically dire first-half-of-the-year lineup. A gentle essay on young romance, All the Real Girls is uncommonly optimistic about human nature and softly reflective in a way that contemporary films hardly ever aspire to be. In that, its sensibility is almost anachronistic; I’m not sure there’s a cynical moment in its 108-minute running time.