Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anna Kendrick
Directed by: Edgar Wright (“Hot Fuzz”)
Written by: Edgar Wright (“Hot Fuzz”) and Michael Bacall (“Bookies”)
While it might be easy enough to dismiss a movie adapted from a comic book or video game in some cases as too cartoony or CGI-heavy, the liveliness radiating from “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” – even when beyond ridiculous – is exactly the type of fanboy flair director Edgar Wright (“Hot Fuzz,” “Shaun of the Dead”) was born to create. It’s unfortunate, however, that “Scott Pilgrim” substitutes a sensible script with scattershot scenes of hyper-unrealistic imagery set in an alternate universe void of any real emotion.
In the film, adapted from the graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley, our hero Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera in a very familiar, geeky role) spends his time making due with his cute, high school-aged girlfriend Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) and rocking out in his band Sex Bom-omb (a Super Mario Bros. reference for those keeping score).
When Scott meets hipster Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), he doesn’t want anything else out of life except to make her his girlfriend. The problem is that Ramona has more than her fair share of baggage. Waiting in the wings as her and Scott’s relationship begins to blossom is Ramona’s seven evil, superhuman exes (six boys, one girl) that Scott must battle and defeat if he wants to date her.
But who really wants to see six separate fights (one is a 2-on-1 against twin brothers) when neither the hero nor the villains are very likeable? Why should “Scott Pilgrim” get a pass when so many other movies (even ones based on video games) are criticized for taking the video-game style too literal?
“Scott Pilgrim” feels suffocated. It’s a movie that is well aware of the gimmick it’s selling, but one with aspirations for something with more substance and character development. Part of that problem is, of course, that the entire “Scott Pilgrim” comic book series has been shrunk to fit into a single feature. It’s a valiant attempt by Wright and Universal Pictures, but one that ultimately can’t carry the load as everyone wears out their welcome.
As Scott fights the exes one by one (Spoiler: He kills the vegan ex-boyfriend with half-and-half…sigh), you sort of forget what he’s fighting for in the first place. Sure, it’s a clever idea if you’re into the whole save-the-princess storyline, but ultimately you’ll wish “Scott Pilgrim” would find one of those portals that’ll transport him to the final level so he can just get it over with already.