I love “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” for many reasons, but it occurs to me to consider the story structure. There’s a lot going on, actually.
The premise, of course, is that Scott must fight Ramona’s seven evil exes (in a live action portrayal of video game combat). The inciting incident doesn’t reveal that immediately, though. The inciting incident is that Scott meets Ramona, but even that takes us through three or four scenes. Once they’re dating, the central conflict is revealed, but not fully. As the story progresses, we learn a little more about the depth of the situation with each encounter.
Meanwhile, there is the relationship with the girl he is dating when he meets Ramona, and the ex-girlfriend who left him damaged from more than a year ago, both of whom have their own storylines.
There’s also the background plot of Scott’s band and their pursuit of a record deal. This is a fairly low key part of the story, but it provides a framework to move some things along. Perhaps more importantly, it provides the foothold to make this film a fairly musical one.
All of these plots and storylines integrate together seamlessly, not only coexisting, but building on each other. This is why I am in awe of the writing.
(How do they fit all this into a feature length film? I suspect this is largely accomplished through the very fast pace of the film. The script must have many more scenes than are typical, but many of them are very short. In print, the script must be fairly long. Also, there are many brilliant moments in the film that pull double duty, conveying multiple pieces of information together, or accomplishing multiple story goals.)
Sometimes I get a little hung up on “what kind of character would do this?” Then when I think I have a character in mind, I am faced with conflicts: “this character wouldn’t do that.” I don’t know if it was intentional, or more accidental, but fighting evil exes is almost completely out of character for Scott, and yet he does it anyway. I guess this is magic enabled by the whole video game premise of the story.