Ed reviews 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World'

 

Rated PG-13, 3.5 stars

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a zippy comedy/adventure brimming over with comic book and video

game flourishes and pop culture references. It's based on a series of graphic

novels by Bryan Lee O'Malley and several fans of his work assured me after the

screening that the film gets everything right, that "you couldn't ask for a

better adaptation than this." Edgar Wright is the director/producer/co-writer

and he made Shaun of the Dead and

Hot Fuzz, which ups the hipness

factor even more.

I found the first part of the film intriguing but annoying.

The smug tone, the stylistic doodling, the in-your-face presentation of the

characters, and Michael Cera doing his beta male thang yet again. How can this

guy keep getting older while appearing even more adolescent?

But as the movie progressed and I adjusted to its rhythm,

most of the annoyance faded and by the final third, I had a pretty good time.

Asked my opinion afterwards, I explained what I just told you and said I was

looking forward to watching it again to see if I'd enjoy it from the start on

second viewing.

I haven't done that yet and decided I should write my review

based on my initial exposure. Is Scott Pilgrim the "generational milestone" some claim it to be? You got me, bub. All

I can tell you is what I experienced.

The set up: Scott Pilgrim (Cera) is a mild guy in his early

twenties who lives in Toronto, shares a bare-bones apartment, and bed, with his

gay buddy (Kieran Culkin), and plays bass in a garage band. He was flattened a

year ago when his girlfriend (Brie Larson) broke up with him. Now he dates

17-year-old Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), which seems like a bad idea to most of

his pals. It made me a squirm a little.

Everything changes when Scott meets, and falls for, Romana

Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a standard-issue "exotic" quasi-punk oozing

with attitude. Scott ditches young Knives and sets forth to battle Romana's

"seven evil exes" to the death, as in video game-style death.

Makes no sense? Right, and welcome to a world where the

quest for romance is a mix of superheroics, martial arts action and posturing,

posturing, posturing. Getting through all the battles becomes a bit of a chore,

but Wright and company get points for imagination. Scott's opponents, by the

way, include Chris Evans and Brandon Routh (who is so much better in everything

other than Superman Returns.) Jason

Schwartzman is the main teeth-gnasher.

I liked the lack of qualification concerning the sleeping

arrangements between Scott and his roomie. Nice to see sexual orientation

treated in such a no-big-deal fashion. Kieran Culkin bugged me at first –

world-weary characters that young usually do – but as I spent more time

with him, I began to appreciate the shadings of the guy. There's not a lot of

character shading otherwise. Wright offers individuals who are intended to be

cartoonish, but relatable. He pulls it off, more or less, though I often wished

the characters would just cut it out and act like full-fledged people.

Normally, I'd comment on the cast at this point, but aside

from Culkin, no one really gets the opportunity to do anything subtle.

Especially Michael Cera, who does what he does and gets away with it yet again.

So here I am, enjoying a movie that irritated me. Will

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World work for you? I

couldn't hazard a guess. For me it was frustrating, but ultimately fun.

Exasperating, but entertaining. You get the idea – I remain torn. Wonder

what I'll think of it on second viewing?

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