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"Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" Review

The balance sheet going into - OK, sneaking into; I made this the back half of an impromptu double-feature - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was this: I like Edgar Wright's work (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz); I hadn't read the graphic novels it was based on; I'm a regular visitor to Toronto and photographed a New Model Army show at Lee's Palace last year; I "get" the videogame and anime aesthetic that the trailer showcases; and I'm on record as thinking Michael Cera is an empty hole on the screen.

It's a testament to Wright's skill that he is able to make a visually dense pastiche that holds together and holds our interest despite two factors that would normally kill a movie dead: a leading man who is not plausible as a hero and a leading lady without any discernible qualities that make her worth fighting 7 Evil Exes over. Other than her changing hairstyles, Ramona Flowers is a self-involved snot. Newcomer Ellen Wong as Scott's platonic girlfriend Knives Chau is a burst of sunshine and energy and for a moment it appeared they'd put him with her, but the Hollywood formula that made Pretty In Pink faceplant at the finish line is at work here.

Perhaps the point was that Scott is projecting something interesting on her, but that doesn't work because Cera's such a mousy drip, just as he always is. While there are moments here where he breaks out of his default mode, he spends most of the movie playing the same character he always plays. The movie bombed at the box office primarily because he is poison. By all rights, his career should be pretty much over. Time to go to college, Mikey.

It doesn't help Cera that he is spanked by Kieran Culkin as his gay roommate in every scene. (Pun intended.) About halfway through I stopped trying to imagine how Jesse Eisenberg would've been better and started wishing Culkin was playing Scott. (I'm sure the producers felt the same way on Monday morning after its opening.) The evil exes are good, especially a fun Chris Evans and almost unrecognizable Brandon Routh as an ex who is a current with Scott's old girlfriend and is such a strict vegan that he has superpowers.

But the ultimate star of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is Edgar Wright who hopefully won't suffer too many career repercussions from having an empty hole in the middle of his lively frames. I'm looking forward to picking up the Blu-ray to soak up the details that whizzed by at the show. If you're looking for fizzy fun, you'll find it here; you just won't get much intellectual soul or emotional meaning.

Score: 8/10. Catch a matinee.

BONUS: Check out the official trailer (below) and then the absotively BRILLIANT mash-up that some masterfully put together (really below) using the same audio, but cutting in Matrix footage. Genius!


Anonymous said...

no interest. even to download it.

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