Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a film that nicely encapsulates the state of current young adult lives—a world where patience is lost, music and technology rule, and boys apparently dig girls with constantly changing hair colors.
Edgar Wright's adaptation of Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novels is a kinetic visual feast, and an often hilarious love story that is like no other movie.
Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim, a 22-year-old Toronto resident rocking the world in a garage band and dating 17-year-old Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). Knives worships him and his band, Sex Bob-omb, to a point that is somewhat alarming, and while Scott finds his time with her pleasant, he secretly yearns for something more.
That more comes in the form of Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a beautiful and somewhat droll woman who appeared in his dreams before he actually met her. They start dating behind Knives' back, a fact that doesn't even register with Scott, because he's so blindingly in love. All is well until Scott learns he must battle Ramona's "Seven Evil Exes" in a series of showdowns that get progressively more epic.
Wright, who directed the already classic Shaun of the Dead, isn't shooting for major depth here. He's crafted a 112-minute video game, complete with arcade sounds and gamer instructions. In some ways, the movie comes off as a slightly cynical take on a modern society dependent on cellular phones, texting and video games. One of the film's best running gags involves the ability of Scott's gay roommate, Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin), to call or text Scott's sister, Stacey (Anna Kendrick), with news about Scott's love life with lightning speed—even when Wallace is unconscious.
The evil exes show up to do battle one at a time; they include film star Lucas Lee (Chris Evans), who sometimes recruits his stuntmen to help battle Scott, and super-epic bass-player Todd Ingram (Brandon Routh), who uses the power of veganism. Routh, who has temporarily lost his job as Superman, is one of the funnier presences in the film. Christopher Nolan (who is producing the next Superman film) needs to see this movie and perhaps reconsider Routh for the role. Routh owns the moments he has in this film, and deserves another chance.
Cera actually makes for an impressive action star in this movie, throwing punches and kicks in credible fashion. Cera also looks the part of a bass player. Ironically, Cera has never before delivered a more well-rounded, "real" performance—a significant feat, considering that this film rarely stops to breathe. He's funny and sweet, and clearly at the top of his game as an actor.
Winstead is a wise choice for a dream-girl role. The camera loves her, and so will just about everybody who watches this movie. Kendrick, so good in last year's Up in the Air, is very funny in her small, fast-talking role. Culkin gets the film's biggest laughs in perhaps the greatest role ever played by anybody with the last name "Culkin."
Wright has made some superior music choices for the soundtrack, getting musician and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich to provide the score, with contributions from Beck (who composed Sex Bob-omb's songs) and Broken Social Scene.
With this and Kick-Ass, 2010 is proving to be a good year for graphic-novel movies. It is still, however, a shit year for Sex and the City movies, and movies featuring Brendan Fraser.