From the opening credits, where the Universal Studios logo and theme are rendered in 8-bit graphics and sound, I knew that Edgar Wright (director of other geek-friendly satires such as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) was going to do a great job with this movie. The premise was totally fun and drool-worthy on its own: post-teen Scott Pilgrim falls for a delivery girl and must defeat her “Seven Evil Exes” (in video-game-style surrealism) in order to be with her. While it’s unavoidable that we will watch this movie essentially counting down the exes, it’s a great way to dress up a somewhat-cliche slacker romance that really belongs more to the previous millennium.
Archetypal boy-man Michael Cera has the lead role of Scott, and I don’t really feel that it suited him that well. Sure, Cera does a great job bringing his gawky mannerisms and Kermit-the-Frog voice to the mix, but I think he is maybe 15% deficient in the required coolness. Similarly, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is so dull as Ramona, the object of Scott’s affections, that even the ever-changing hair colour doesn’t do enough to make her interesting or likeable. I almost wish Scott had stayed with stalker-teen Knives Chau (his girlfriend at the beginning of the movie), or his own ex Envy Adams (who has become a rock star in her own right). Even their names are far more interesting.
All that being said, I found the movie really enjoyable because of all the flashy video game humour (not something you see every day). There are all kinds of text and graphics super-imposed on the scenes to represent feelings, or ideas. When bands play, there are bolts of energy drawn around the musicians, or occasionally there’s even some cutaways to cartoon images drawn based on the original Scott Pilgrim graphic novel. Those elements all add to the nerdy fun, but the highlights are still the over-the-top caricatures that are the Seven Evil Exes. It all reminded of Stephen Chow’s martial arts insanity in a movie called Kung Fu Hustle, where you don’t really remember or care about the story so much as all the wild and wacky showdowns. Chris Evans (of Fantastic Four, and soon to be Captain America), Brandon Routh (formerly the Superman who returned), Jason Schwartzman (well, he never played a superhero, but he voiced an animated fox if that counts for anything) all feature among the Evil Exes, playing incredibly cartoonish characters. I know that after all I’ve said, this movie might sound ridiculous. However, all I can say is, if you like video games like Street Fighter, and enjoy a little sendup of indie teen flicks, this is definitely something to check out. (4 out of 5)