Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Edgar Wright

BY James KeastPublished Aug 12, 2010

His hilarious first two features were genre parodies: Shawn of the Dead (zombies) and Hot Fuzz (buddy cops), but in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, director Edgar Wright is inventing a whole new film genre: the videogame/comic/action mash-up, with great success.

Based on six graphic novels by Halifax cartoonist Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) must face off against seven evil exes in order to date out-of-his-league, fuchsia-haired Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). These battles take the form of videogame face-offs, even while Pilgrim's aspiring indie rock band (Sex Bob-omb) face their own foes in an aspiring battle of the bands, vying to be signed by tastemaker Gideon Gordon Graves (Rushmore's Jason Schwartzman), who is, of course, one of Ramona's exes.

Stylistically, Scott Pilgrim smooshes together rock bands and Rock Band, with videogame jokes like a defeated ex bursting into a shower of collectable coins, and a series of subtle quick-edit jokes about Canada or hipsters or even the film-from-comic adaptation itself.

Wright's greatest accomplishment is the sense of fun that Scott Pilgrim gives; it never gets overly pleased with its cleverness, moving quickly onto another over-the-top boss battle or sensitive record store-browsing moment of early 20s anxiety. While Michael Cera maintains his demeanour of sad sack bewilderment, the surrounding cast is uniformly brilliant, not just the high profile exes, but Keiran Culkin is perfectly charming as gay roommate Wallace, Allison Pill is all freckles and charm (but not a great drumming mimic) as Kim Pine, Anna Kendrick (Up In the Air) and Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) steal scenes as Scott's sister and friend, respectively. And Ellen Wong is terrific as Scott's wronged high school girlfriend Knives Chau.

At the centre of what could be the most annoying perfect storm of ironic T-shirts and ennui is Winstead's Ramona, who's perfect as the nerdy rock girlfriend ― troubled but not dangerous, guarded but generous, beautiful yet accessible. The only suspension of disbelief is that Ramona falls for Cera's Pilgrim instead of perfectly dishevelled Sex Bob-omb front-man Stephen Stills (the talent), or that her taste would switch from buff, manly assholes played by the superheroic likes of Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) or Chris Evans (Fantastic Four) to Cera's perpetual adolescent.

Yet Wright sells that fantasy right along with every other mundane roommate or band practice gag, grounding his tale in the real even as it soars on joystick-guided adventures.

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