Image: Universal Pictures
Yes, it’s another Michael Cera movie. It does look like we’re all fed up of the hipster prince of the awkward mumble. But while it won’t change your mind about the actor, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is definitely worth a look.
Based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s wonderful series of manga-esque graphic novels, Scott Pilgrim vs The World is the story of the titular 22-year old slacker/bass-player’s struggle to defeat Ramona Flowers’ seven evil exes to win her heart.
Pilgrim may be Edgar Wright’s (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) first film outside of the UK but it doesn’t feel like too much of a departure. It’s bursting with colour and energy, references to video games, TV shows, and movies abound, and it’s filled to the brim with very funny and talented actors. The screenplay, co-written with Michael Bacall, does a mostly excellent job of condensing the six comic books into ninety minutes. But while most of the best jokes are still there, and while the film is possibly the most visually representative of its source material since Sin City, all is not perfect.
Either the action or the romance was always going to take a backseat. Wright and Bacall do try hard to keep us invested in Scott and Ramona, but it’s here that the casting of Cera doesn’t help. Even setting aside the fact that he’s simply not the Scott Pilgrim of the comics, if you don’t like him, you’re not really going to care how his relationship with Ramona is going. And while Mary Elizabeth Winstead puts in a strong show, the script simply doesn’t give her character enough depth. We’re never really given much of an explanation for Scott’s obsession, beyond the fact that she’s elusive and hot.
It’s just as well, then, that everyone else is great. Kieran Culkin steals the film as Scott’s promiscuous gay roommate Wallace, while Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Aubrey Plaza (Funny People), Allison Pill (In Treatment), and especially newcomer Ellen Wong get big laughs. There are some brilliant cameos and the evil exes are bang on, too. Captain America Chris Evans and Superman Brandon Routh enjoy flexing their comic muscles, and evil eyebrows, while Mae Whitman (Arrested Development) makes an impression late on as bi-furious half-ninja Roxy. Jason Schwartzman is great as evil hipster mastermind Gideon Gordon Graves, but by the time he shows up the film’s biggest flaw has surfaced.
Scott Pilgrim is simply too episodic. There’s some funny dialogue, a brief scene with Ramona, then a fight with an evil ex, then the formula repeats itself. This is fine for the first hour or so, but quickly becomes too repetitive. However, while it may be predictable, it’s never boring. Just when you’re ready to get your critical knives out, a sonic yeti fights two sonic dragons. And it is difficult to argue with that, let alone the vegan police.
Funny, and occasionally brilliant, if not slightly disappointing.