I enjoy outrageous movie ideas, but the one for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World sounded like a gamble. Ultra-mild-mannered Michael Cera smacks down bad boys like in an old-school video game. Sounds potentially cringeworthy, right?
The actual picture ends up being continuously imaginative. Spastic director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) squeezes down Bryan O’Malley’s six graphic novels without diluting the pop culture in-jokes. It’s goofy fun for fanboys and fangirls.
Scott Pilgrim (Cera), shy bassist for Toronto garage band Sex Bob-omb, falls hopelessly in love with rollerblading Amazon.com delivery girl Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). She acts chilly to his clumsy approaches at first, but seems willing to give him a chance. Unfortunately, Scott’s forgotten to dump Chinese girlfriend Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) first. He eventually wills up the courage to do it, but truly getting rid of her won’t be that easy. Even more hazardous are Ramona’s seven super-powered exes led by Gideon Gordon Graves (Jason Schwartzman) who want to swat him into the next country.
Winning the award for pop-culture nerdiness, the jokes reference video games, anime, music, comics, movies and TV. The film’s probably funnier the more you know about the first three. With brightly colored hair and oversized hammer, Ramona looks like a rave music fan or a fighter from the Final Fantasy game franchise. The storyline includes pieces of many Japanese anime cartoons where competing lovers literally combat each other.
Michael Cera plays Scott like his previous movie roles, but more bizarrely neurotic. This time around, the supporting actors threaten to steal the movie away from Cera. Kieran Culkin’s portrayal of Scott’s gay roommate Wallace Wells is the most notable. His drunken outbursts and parade of gay boyfriends lead to the best running gags. Aubrey Plaza shines also as snobby Julie Powers who holds down multiple jobs so she can hound and brand Scott a loser wherever he goes. Chris Evans (The Fantastic Four) and Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) who’ve played heroes before, turn up as bumbling villains. Routh’s bad guy banter eclipses Cera’s funniest lines in the movie.