There's no doubt about it: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a highly entertaining, wildly visual treat that will wow the video game generation with its flash, pizzaz and geeky wit. But for those looking for more than just sparkly digitalness and emo fairytales may leave the theater a little disappointed.
No, don't get me wrong, the movie is really cool. It's just that, well, Scott himself is kinda dull. It seems that everyone around him is quicker, wittier, and generally more interesting than Michael Cera's sweet, goofy underdog of a hero. It's a schtick that Cera has down pat, and after seeing it in Arrested Development, Superbad, Year One, and Youth in Revolt, it's starting to show its age. But still, Cera does what he does well, so it's hard to fully lay the fault on Scott Pilgrim.
Scott is a go-nowhere 22 year-old who plays bass in a crappy band and lacks forward momentum in his life. He bunks up in a shabby studio apartment with his gay best friend Wallace Wells, played hilariously by Kieran Culkin, and dates an obnoxious high school girl names Knives Chau, portrayed appropriately and pathetically by Ellen Wong. But Scott's life changes when he falls for Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a hip and sassy delivery girl who can't seem to make up her mind what color her hair should be.
From that point, Scott quickly figures out that he must defeat her seven evil exes in order to be with her, who all attack in manners that would feel more at home in a 60's Japanese monster movie... or an arcade game. It's an absurd concept for sure, but since the style of the film is so strong and flamboyant, you don't think twice about how all of Ramona's douchey former boyfriends have superhuman qualities.
Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman and Chris Evans are the standout bad guys, and all three seem to revel in being ridiculous and over-the-top. Schwartzman does what he does best, playing a smarmy record executive who ends up being the plot's big boss, and Kieran Culkin literally steals every scene he's in, further enhancing the lack of a truly interesting central character in Scott. Mary Elizabeth Winstead does well to add depth and warmth to Ramona Flowers, a character who, on the page at least, could have seemed more of a cold bitch than a quirky hipster chick with a minor identity crisis.
Director Edgar Wright does a clever job of translating Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novel, saturating his film with small details, many of them digital overlays of video game garnish and comic book style fight sounds, and the results couldn't be more infectiously fun... for at least the first half. Once you get the idea, though, the additions become a little tiresome, but in no way ruin the picture. It's just that after it's solidified that Scott must actually battle, you either accept the fact that you're just going to continue to be barraged by the flair, or you'll succumb to its charms.
All in all, Scott Pilgrim will certainly wow you with its slickness, tickle you with its goofy comedy, and keep you entertained with its brisk pace and wild visuals. While it's no Shaun of the Dead, it's certainly a strong entry in Edgar Wright's body of work, and a welcome diversion from this summer's generally lackluster roster of films (Inception excepted). Go see it!