Increasingly, movies are being made and marketed to a niche audience – and that was never more obvious than during the “surprise” screening of this techno-oriented romantic comedy at the recent Comic-Con in San Diego. Based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s six-volume graphic series, it’s a coming-of-age story, set in Toronto. The only thing 22 year-old Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) really loves is playing bass guitar in the garage band Sex Bob-omb, much to the consternation of his younger sister Stacey (Anna Kendrick), gay roommate Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin) even fellow band members (Alison Pill, Johnny Simmons, Mark Webber). They blame his slacker mentality on his disappointment a year earlier when his then-girlfriend, aptly named Envy Adams (Brie Larson), not only broke his heart but became a rock star. And now he’s with Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), a soulful 17 year-old high school stalker.
But everything changes when Scott falls madly, passionately and obsessively in love with fantasy-inspired, fuchsia-haired hipster Ramona V. Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who is burdened with “seven evil exes” whom Scott must vanquish to win her heart. And he does – in a series of colorful, action-packed, cartoonish duels, defeating caricatured suitors ranging from Chris Evans to Brandon Routh to Jason Schwartzman.
These frenetically paced, artfully spliced skirmishes are musically linked together by alt-rock stars like Beck, Plumtree and Metric. Steeped in a dizzying audio/visual barrage of synthesized pop culture references, British director/co-writer/producer Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz”),
working with co-writer Michael Bacall, has successfully captured Bryan Lee O’Malley’s essential tone and timbre, encapsulating the angst of first romance and the empowerment of self-discovery, albeit in an overloaded, episodic format. Not surprisingly, Michael Cera once again nails the bright, sensitive and clueless insecurity, although it might have been a tad more interesting if he and scene-stealing Kieran Culkin had switched roles.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” is a splashy, stylish 7, specifically geared for youthful, hyperactive viewers who are familiar with contemporary video game/comic book culture.