Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a hilarious, high-energy, constantly entertaining film, and that’s all thanks to writer/director Edgar Wright. If you’re familiar with Wright’s work on the cult-TV show Spaced, or his films Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, you know that he employs a Tarantino-like sense of affection towards the films he’s paying an homage to, but as Vince Mancini of perfectly put it; his films are as much “critique as they are glorification.” Wright loves the material he’s parodying or satirizing, and that’s why the humor is so perfectly spot on. “The best burns always come from an insider,” as they say, and that’s also why it looks as visually perfect as it does. It’s as much part of the cannon as it is a satire spoofing it.

Wright has created his own unique visual style that is the result of marrying his passion for film and pop-culture with spot-on comedic timing that has been hard to notice amongst comedic directors for a long time. He lets his actors have laughs, and with a plethora of hilarious performances there are plenty to go around, but he gets just as many as they do simply from competent filmmaking and crisp editing.

Watching Scott Pilgrim you can’t help but feel that whoever did storyboarding for Wright must have thought he was a little bit insane. Every shot is so jam-packed with references and quick that the film might have come off as an example of visual A.D.D. if there weren’t as much careful detail to laughs, performance, and his glorification of the source material, as there are stylish cues. It never feels like he did something just for the sake of style, he’s done it because he decided on a style for his film, and that style is intrinsically linked to maintaining the world he created.

Scott Pilgrim follows Michael Cera as the bassist for a Toronto-based indie-band who instantly falls in love with Ramona Flowers, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Unfortunately in order to date her, he must defeat a league of her evil exes. Like the video games it mocks and glorifies, he works through them level by level. At it’s basest it’s a typical romantic comedy as seen through a fanboy geek filter, and just that seemingly little difference allows Wright to make a completely one-of-a-kind film.

With that little bit of a twist Wright and co-writer Michael Bacall are able to turn Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels into a personal film that reflects their sensibility. The humor is all over the place and hits you non-stop. Sometimes the jokes are quirky, sometimes satirical, sometimes absurd, and sometimes are just a knowing wink to the audience, but they all land and everything between Cera’s trademark pregnant pauses and Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss lightning fast editing works together to form what are sometimes the most visually stunning and complex one-liners in comedy history, and sometimes an appropriately complex set for a carefully built and constructed visual joke.

Any fan of video games will delighted by the film from top to bottom, as it plays out like a smorgasbord of references following what is essentially a single-player character going through levels, but I don’t like video games and I still loved it. Wright has managed to make a comedy that is unlike any other comedy, an action film that is unlike any other action film, a fantasy that is unlike any other fantasy, and at the end leave the audience feeling that inexplicable warmth in their chest after having seen a movie that just makes them feel good.

Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Ellen Wong, Aubrey Plaza, Jason Schwartzman
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Running time: 113 min.
Rated: PG-13

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