Get ready geeks, because this flick is bonkers! It's utterly bonkers from start to finish, but in the best possible way. Going into this movie with no knowledge of the graphic novel series it's based on, I had no expectations. Luckily, I did have a childhood filled with countless hours of Nintendo under my belt. What does that have to do with anything? It means this movie blew my mind and gave me the same feeling of satisfaction as when I saved my first princess with an overweight plumber. If you didn't get that reference or grow up in the 80s with a Nintendo, this film may not be for you. It's geared towards today's younger audience and those in their 20s still living with their folks.
The film is very straight forward with its plot, introducing its characters using little sarcastic comic book blocks with their name, age, and occupations. Set in Toronto, the film follows Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), an out-of-work garage band bass player -- and all around slacker -- who gets love struck when he sets his eyes on the new girl in town, Ramona. After a little pestering, Scott scores a date with Ramona, but he isn't ready for the repercussions that follow. Because the two of them are now dating, Scott must defeat Ramona's seven evil exes (aka The League of Evil Exes) before they destroy him and try to win her back. Sound too ridiculous and too far-fetched to be taken seriously? Yes it is, but get over it, because it is basically a guy's version of a romantic comedy. And ladies, you'll love it too!
Before meeting Ramona, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Live Free or Die Hard), Cera's Scott Pilgrim is different from his usual awkward characters. He is a little cocky, with an 'I don't care what other people think' swagger to him which is very refreshing. When he is around Ramona, though, it's back to the same awkwardness that Cera is known for. That is until it's time to fight for her. Then, Scott practically becomes Neo from the Matrix and is able to kick anyone's ass, and kick it hard. Cera and Winstead are joined by a cast of up and coming actors. One that stood out for me was Kieran Culkin as Wallace Wells, Scott's gay roommate/best friend. His presence in a scene made everything funnier because he is constantly talking Scott into something he probably wouldn't (and sometimes shouldn't) do. Chris Evans (Fantastic Four) and Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore) were both completely over the top in an amazing way, but the 'Over the Top' award goes to Superman himself, Brandon Routh, who played Evil Ex #3, Todd Ingram. Routh shows the audience that becoming a vegan gives you super powers and that he doesn't mind poking fun at himself for a laugh.
This film is hard to categorize at times, and that's not too surprising coming from director Edgar Wright of Shaun of the Dead & Hot Fuzz fame. At times it feels like a standard comedy, others a comic book movie or homage to video games, but it's still a romance all the way through (just not a sappy one). Other than Inception, this is probably the most original film to come out this year. If today's younger generation were part of the Academy, this film would win for Art Direction and Cinematography, because it's easily the best looking film in years.
Wright's Scott Pilgrim will probably have the smallest budget for a big summer movie at only $60 million, but what he lacks in money he makes up for in creative control. Although I haven't read the graphic novels, I know they are set in Toronto and the majority of the characters are Canadian. That's something that studio execs could have easily made Wright change to make the movie more "American". Thankfully, Wright stayed true to the source material. Score one for Canada.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.