Brie Larson’s Best Movie Was a Colossal Flop

By Nathan Kamal | 1 month ago

brie larson

At the relatively tender age of 32, Brie Larson is about as successful as an actor can be. The 21 Jump Street star has an entire shelf of awards, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a Primetime Emmy. She is the lead of a mega-successful comic book franchise, and reportedly the highest-paid actress in film after some doubtlessly tense negotiations with Disney. She has an enormously popular social media presence, even if she does get criticized for some questionable decisions and mediocre yard care tips. She was even in a sitcom with the late Bob Saget, which is what we all really want for ourselves, deep down. But the very best Brie Larson movie is now 12 years old and was a colossal commercial failure on release, through no real fault of anyone involved. That’s right, we are talking about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

brie larson

While you would think the best Brie Larson movie might be the one she won an Oscar for (that would be the kidnapping drama Room, based on the novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue) or Kong: Skull Island, because there is a giant ape fighting reptile monsters, but nope. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was released in 2010 and was swiftly buried by the combined force of The Expendables and Eat, Pray, Love. It had a disappointing opening weekend of just over $10 million, and swiftly dropped to the bottom of the top ten released films at the time, never a good sign. Considering the movie was budgeted at an estimate of $85 million and was expected to be an enormous leveling up of budget and ambition for director-producer-co-writer Edgar Wright, it was generally considered a misfire on the commercial level. 

scott pilgrim

But make no mistake,  Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a cinematic achievement the likes of which had not really been seen in Hollywood at the time (and y’know, the best Brie Larson movie too). Based on a cult comic book series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim centered on the titular protagonist (played by Michael Cera at the height of his hipster-doofus-I-can-save-him appeal) and his quest to win the heart of Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). In order to do so, he needs to defeat her seven evil exes, in a series of highly kinetic, visually and sonically gorgeous battles. Where’s Brie Larson, you might ask? Well, she is an ex too, but actually Scott’s. And whereas Scott Pilgrim appears to be an unemployed, unsuccessful bassist (if that’s not redundant) in a struggling band called Sex Bob-Omb, which also includes another ex named Kim (Alison Pill), because this guy doesn’t understand boundaries, Brie Larson’s Envy Adams is a massively successful pop star. Here’s the moment everyone loves:

That is the sequence that turns Scott Pilgrim vs. the World into the best Brie Larson movie for Brie Larson, with her rendition of Canadian band Metric’s “Black Sheep” becoming so popular that it was eventually released as a full track. Larson had actually taken a stab at a musical career early on, releasing one album titled Finally Out of P.E. in 2005 that did not make much of a splash. But Scott Pilgrim vs. the World wisely utilizes the immense star power Brie Larson had already been developing and presents her as the ultimate cool girl. On stage, she is a force of nature. Offstage, she’s a jerk, but her storyline involves her remembering that she actually used to be nice. So there’s a whole arc there.  

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World sank at the box office, even though it also featured a staggering array of youthful talent. Aside Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Brie Larson (because it is, after all, the best Brie Larson movie), the movie stars Kierin Culkin (pre-Succession), Chris Evans (pre-Captain America), Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick, Jason Schwartzmann, and many others. If you listen real hard, you might even recognize the voice of Bill Hader as the Mortal Kombat-like announcer of “KO!” in Scott’s battles. In more recent years, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has come to be appreciated for its playful visuals, incredible soundtracks, and exploration of the ideas of romantic pursuits and toxic relationships. Plus, when Scott punches a guy real hard, he turns into a shower of coins, and that’s just cool.