Many wandered out of “Inception” contemplating whether or not the entire movie was a dream. Throughout “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” I kept expecting somebody to abruptly wake up to reveal the film was all a fantasy. Yet, nobody awakens.
The movie takes place in an offbeat world where people with superpowers battle like characters in video games to their demise. When a gothic man soars through the roof of a nightclub and challenges Scott Pilgrim to a fight for the hand of his new girlfriend, nobody seems especially amazed. The incident isn’t even mentioned on the nightly news.
That’s kind of what I enjoyed about “Scott Pilgrim,” though. The film has no logic and makes no attempt to have any logic. So why should I attempt to find logic in it?
Based on a series of graphic novels, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” stars Michael Cera as the title character. Scott is a 22-year-old guitar player who is dating a high school Asian girl with the obscure name Knives Chau. He breaks things off with the clingy Knives after he lays eyes on the lovely, pink-haired Ramona, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Ramona is the epitome of everything Scott has ever desired in a woman. To make Ramona his, Scott must vanquish her seven evil exes. Scott and the exes brawl in a series of K.O. matches like the fighters in “Mortal Combat” and “Soulcalibur.” When defeated, the exes perish into a pile of Canadian coins. That’s basically the entire plot.
Cera has made a name for himself over the years playing awkward prepubescent and young adults. While he’s pretty much portraying the same character here, it’s hard to deny that Cera is appealing and funny doing his usual routine. Where Cera’s acting career will go once he begins to show some age is up for debate. Maybe he’ll end up playing a lot of nerdy fathers in teenage comedies. I imagine that Jim’s dad in the “American Pie” series was a lot like Michael Cera in his youth.
Also good here is the charming Winstead as the woman who captures Scott’s heart. There isn’t a fault in the whole acting ensemble, which includes Anna Kendrick of “Twilight” and “Up in the Air” as Scott’s sister, Aubrey Plaza from “Parks and Recreation” as a girl with issues, and Jason Schwartzman as the final boss of the movie.
The scene-stealing performance comes from Macaulay Culkin’s younger brother Kieran Culkin in a hilarious turn as Scott’s homosexual roommate. Although it might be too late for the better-known Culkin to revive his fame, Kieran Culkin exemplifies presence here that makes me believe he might maintain a prosperous career.
“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” will be loved by anybody who read the series and probably liked by anybody unfamiliar with the source material.
Edgar Wright of “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” supplies the movie with the quintessence of a graphic novel brought to life. This movie is a love letter to video games, music and comics, which makes me confident it will develop a cult following among the fanboys. It’s kind of like “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” on acid. As somebody who likes “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” and acid, I had a swell time at “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” I’m just kidding about the acid, by the way.
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