Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Totally Geeky, Totally Kick Ass

Much like the graphic novels that inspired it, the movie starring Michael Cera is as much a love letter to video games as it is a smart romantic comedy

By Leslie Gornstein Aug 13, 2010 4:45 PMTags
Michael Cera, Scott Pilgrim vs. the WorldUniversal Pictures

Review in a Hurry: A fun, frenetic, video-game-flavored comedy that racks up the bonus points through a snappy script, savvy casting and smart use of pop references that only occasionally go too far.

The Bigger Picture: In the world of Scott Pilgrim, everybody can rock, and everybody can hold their own in mortal combat. Or maybe that's kombat. Much like the graphic novels that inspired it, the movie is as much a love letter to video games as it is a smart romantic comedy.

Michael Cera stars as Scott Pilgrim, a twentysomething guy with an impressive collection of ironic T-shirts and a serious crush on a girl named Ramona. Trouble is, Ramona has seven evil exes, all of whom have superpowers, and all of whom Pilgrim must defeat if he wants Ramona's hand.

With its candy-haired heroines, pinball pacing and array of over-the-top supporting characters, the movie could have easily gotten buried in its own gumball machine of sights and sounds. But it doesn't, thanks largely to a cast that knows when to save up the action points and when to deliver the triple-attack.

Cera has essentially been playing the same role since fans discovered him in Arrested Development, but his sensitive dweeb persona is a perfect fit here. His comic timing is as admirable as ever, and within a few scenes it's pretty much impossible to see anyone else carrying the role.

And there is a lot to carry. Cera's Pilgrim must be equal parts sympathetic and feckless, indecisive and bold. Like his character, Cera, in a way, pulls off an impossible task: Selling us on a hapless spaghetti-armed twentysomething who nonetheless can shred it up in a punk-rock band and defeat a half-dozen supervillains.

Throw in Anna Kendrick as a frenemy-slash-sister, an understated Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the dreamy but deadly love interest, and Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman and Chris Evans hamming it up—just enough—as bad guys. What do you get? A cast that holds its own against the special effects and the script, which, while solidly funny, does veer occasionally into excessive precociousness.

The 180—a Second Opinion: Director Edgar Wright was smart to include a steady stream of pop-up-style background effects, to train the audience for the over-the-top fight scenes to come. But the widgets are sometimes overused; do we really need to see a shrinking "pee bar" as Pilgrim relieves himself?