366 Weird Movies may earn commissions from purchases made through product links.


DIRECTED BY: Abel Góngora

FEATURING THE VOICES OF: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Michael Cera, Satya Bhabha, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, , Brie Larson, Alison Pill, , Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Johnny Simmons, Mark Webber, Mae Whitman, Ellen Wong

PLOT: Slacker bassist Scott Pilgrim must defeat seven evil exes in order to win Ramona Flowers, the girl of his dreams… but a surprising outcome leads Ramona to investigate her own romantic past and the new world that has resulted. 

Still from Scott Pilgirm Takes Off (2023)

COMMENTS: When Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was unleashed upon audiences, the entertainment world braced itself for the perfect synthesis of teen romantic comedy and arcade-style fighting action, the arrival of Edgar Wright in the big leagues, and the birth of a storytelling phenomenon. And the result was… something less than that. The film captured the spirit of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s anime-inspired comic, Wright’s dense candy-colored melange of light and sound was groundbreaking, and the movie’s cast would ultimately be revealed as a murderer’s row of silver screen talent. But crowds did not throng to to the cinemas, and the film fell well short of breaking even at the box office. So Scott Pilgrim did the only thing it could do: it became a cult object.

The thing about cult objects is that their dedicated fan base can sometimes inspire the development of more product, but re-capturing that initial magic is often be such a fruitless pursuit that the reality is worse than the longing for more. So it’s not a question of whether the arrival of a Netflix animated series featuring nearly the entire movie cast lending their voices would produce a response from the most devoted Pilgrim-heads, but whether that series would leave diehards fulfilled, or furious. Intriguingly, “Scott Pilgrim Takes Off” charts a course that feeds into the nostalgia machine before almost immediately pulling the plug on it.

As if wanting to reassure faithful viewers that this is the very same material you fell in love with over a decade ago, the premier episode plays out as a near-repeat of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’s first act, re-introducing all the familiar characters and playing out the meet-cute between slacker-dreamer Scott and doe-eyed dream girl Ramona. But the big twist—which is so fundamental to the miniseries’ execution that the producers begged critics to embargo the surprise during its release, so let’s just consider this a big ol’ SPOILER ALERT right now—is that Scott loses his first showdown with a member of the League of Evil Exes. Leaving nothing behind but a few coins, our ostensible hero is gone, with seven episodes to go. (Essentially, the “Takes Off” part of the title should be interpreted in the most Canadian manner possible.) And what we’re left with is the World Without Scott, and all the other characters who were tangential to Scott’s story but never got their moment—especially Ramona herself.

So she becomes the new central character, starting each day with a new hair color and doggedly trying to understand what happened to her near-boyfriend. In the process, she has the chance to revisit each of her past relationships and understand where they went wrong and her own role in it. It’s thrilling to see Ramona come into her own, and she’s not the only one. Exes like the debonair Gideon Graves and the joyously dumb Lucas Lee are forced to reassess their ambitions and start from scratch. Side characters like Young Neil and Julie Powers take hold of their own storylines. Perhaps most crucially, Scott’s cruelly ignored, underage girlfriend Knives Chau is gifted with agency and allowed to pursue her own desires. (The inappropriateness of the relationship does not go unacknowledged.) In essence, Takes Off becomes a corrective, as if O’Malley looked back at the story he had told and realized, in retrospect, that he wanted something different for his characters, and used his original story to get them there.

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off looks great, too. The anime cartoon stylings (created by the Science Saru animation studio, whose past work includes contributions to “Adventure Time,” “Star Wars: Visions”, and the Apocryphized The Night is Short, Walk On Girl) are colorful and punchy, with character figures that honor the story’s comic book origins but have the heft and bounce of video games; this is most keenly felt in a showdown between Ramona and bitter ex-girlfriend Roxie that literally jumps genres. The show also features terrific music, including a number of less-common but spot-on needle drops, a fun score for the in-show Broadway musical, and an absolute banger of a theme song by Necry Talkie. But for a lot of people, the draw will be that cast, and everyone came to play. Some actors whose careers have blossomed in the ensuing years—Evans, Larson, and Plaza come to mind—are given significantly more to do to justify their presence, but the series format allows these stories to expand organically.

Unlike so many reboots and revisitations, “Scott Pilgrim Takes Off” has a reason-to-be beyond simply extending a known commodity. It actually reflects upon its origins, looks back to consider the choices it made in the past, and contemplates different attitudes and choices that could change the path of the story. It’s not possible for the TV show to be as weird or unorthodox as the movie that preceded it, but it proudly carries that same spirit in a unique and compelling direction. It may not be what the diehards most wanted, but it ennobles the qualities that inspired their fandom in the first place.


“There are characters cosplaying as other characters and all kinds of other weirdness that, I promise, will make sense by the end. I won’t spoil the big twists from later, but Takes Off’s meta-ness gets cranked up to 11, with all kinds of shenanigans involving time travel and, at one point, a musical. Again, it’s not just an opportunity to see beloved characters in weird new situations but also a chance to analyze their decisions — both in this show and in past versions of Scott Pilgrim — in a deeper way… I’m not sure if it’ll have the same impact if you have no history with the franchise. But either way, Takes Off does something very smart for those who do have that history: remixing a familiar tale instead of retelling it.” – Andrew Webster, The Verge (contemporaneous)

Where to watch Scott Pilgrim Takes Off

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *