Netflix‘s highly anticipated series Scott Pilgrim Takes Off will throw devotees for a loop while also welcoming fresh fans to the popular franchise. Developed by original graphic novelist Bryan Lee O’Malley and BenDavid Grabinski, the action-comedy follows the titular character as he meets the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers, and has to fight her seven evil exes to continue seeing her. However, the new adaptation banishes Scott Pilgrim to the background and twists the original story to center on Ramona.
Opening Shot: Looking dejected, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) walks around a bright, snowy land. “I’m so alone,” he mutters to himself. Suddenly, he spots Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) skating towards him. Scott perks up and says, “The girl of my dreams.”
In response, Ramona tells him, “You need to wake up, dude.” Then, Scott wakes up and is sharing a bed with his roommate Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin), who complains about him crashing at his apartment. Wah-wah!
The Gist: The first episode of the series shares several parallels to the original story, but at the very end, the plot becomes unrecognizable. After Scott sees Ramona at a party, he decides to pursue her, against the wishes of his friend Julie (Audrey Plaza). Scott finds out that Ramona delivers DVDs for Netflix (ha!) and uses Wallace’s credit card to rent a movie. When she appears at his house to drop off the DVD, he asks her out.
Aww, romantic, right? Well, not exactly. Scott has a teenage girlfriend, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), who is totally obsessed with him. The date goes swimmingly, and Scott even crashes at Ramona’s place after getting a little bit of action. He invites her to see his band, Sex Bob-Omb, perform later, and she agrees.
When Scott arrives back at Wallace’s house, he receives a letter from one of Ramona’s exes challenging him to a duel. Being the naive himbo that he is, the bass player ignores the threat and proceeds with this day. Later, at the performance, Scott is approached by Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha), the ex who wrote the letter. And, to add to the messy event, both Ramona and Knives show up. Unfortunately for Scott, it seems that his good luck has run out! His battle with Matthew Patel is over as soon as it begins.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of?: With its evil league of exes and occasional cosmic backdrop, the show is similar to Inside Job, which also has a “too-cool-for-school” attitude. Additionally, the music and naivete will have you thinking of Bob’s Burgers, with a sprinkle of Bojack Horseman because, you know, themes of existentialism, redemption, and all that jazz. When in doubt, throw on Scott Pilgrim v.s. the World — it’s not a show, but it’s a classic!
Our Take: Scott Pilgrim Takes Off takes a while to find solid ground after its jarring change at the end of the premiere, but it’s a worthwhile expansion of the Scott Pilgrim story. Not only does it explore Ramona’s character and background, but it also spends time with her seven evil exes — some of whom are bound to become new favorites.
The series is a sweet homage to fans of the source material, even beyond the plot and the return of the entire cast from the 2010 movie adaptation. The exciting production includes comic book-like text on the screen, providing context into new locations, important dates, and little findings in the backgrounds of various sets. On top of that, the original music is epic, as well as the covers. If you are obsessed with Brie Larson as Envy Adams singing Metric’s “Black Sheep,” just wait until you hear the EDM version of Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You” (though it’s sadly not Larson singing it).
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off isn’t without flaws. The show features some uninspired voice acting and toes the line with its cheesiness. The new work also doesn’t give Ramona much space to expand her character beyond her exes, or beyond her pursuit of Scott. So, what was the point? The final takeaway is rather perplexing, but overall, it’s still a sweet and exciting story that takes place within the Scott Pilgrim universe.
Sex and Skin: Kind of? Scott walks in on Ramona while she’s changing clothes and they kiss, but it’s all innocent and animated. They start hooking up and Scott says, “I’m not ready,” so they resign to cuddling in bed instead.
Parting Shot: At the Sex Bob-Omb performance, Matthew Patel and Scott Pilgrim begin to fight over Ramona. Unlike earlier versions of the story, Matthew defeats Scott with his first blow. Scott disappears and three coins are left in his place. Matthew looks in shock and says, “I won?” Ramona is shown standing over the coins and looks up angrily. Then the credits roll, baby!
Sleeper Star: Chris Evans delivers a grand performance as Hollywood star Lucas Lee in later episodes of the series. Episode 4, “Whatever,” centers on the character and follows him around on a movie set. The Captain America star effortlessly channels the douchebaggery of Lee, but also his ambitious nature and faithfulness to the ones he loves. But, dialing it back to the first episode, Ellen Wong gets in a couple of solid lines as Knives.
Most Pilot-y Line: When Ramona asks Scott about his life in Canada, Scott dances around telling her about his previous job, after stating that he’s currently unemployed. “My last job is a really long story filled with sighs, maybe we can get into it in a later episode,” he tells her. Ramona responds, “We don’t have to talk about our pasts, it’s my least favorite subject.” Is that cliche enough for you? *eye roll*
Our Call: STREAM IT! The end of the first episode of Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is bound to turn off some viewers, but just take a deep breath and proceed. By the halfway point, your anger and confusion will fully dissipate as the story plays on and divulges new findings about the beloved characters. If you venture into this series with an open mind, you’ll love it. The show has all the charm, humor, and action of its source material!