Michael Cera is known for playing a geeky and awkwardly charming young man in every movie he appears, and if that's a shortcoming it doesn't explain the masterpiece that is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. In this action-comedy-romance from the director of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, Cera plays the exact same character he did in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, only here he has super powers and video game upgrades. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is the ultimate movie for nerds, but it will appeal to broader audiences if they give it a chance.
Cera plays a bass guitarist in a Toronto band who is dating a 17-year old Chinese girl. His attention toward her wanes quickly when he sees the beautiful, purple-haired Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). The two quickly hit it off, but he soon discovers that Ramona comes with some baggage: her seven evil exes, whom he must defeat to win her once and for all.
It's hard to describe exactly what Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is other than to say it is an homage to video games and video game fans. Thankfully, it's not based on a video game, which means it's actually good. The characters exist in a hyper-energetic world that is both realistic and surrealistic simultaneously; Wright hits the nail on the head repeatedly, referencing hundreds of games, comic books and other pop culture icons (a short and brilliant "Seinfeld" homage comes to mind); Scott Pilgrim looks awesome and is even cooler than that.
Wright is masterful in his delivery. As Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz proved, he has a keen ability to spoof a genre while paying homage to and delivering what fans of the genre expect; in Shaun of the Dead, he made fun of zombie movies, satirized them and yet offered to fans a legitimate zombie movie; in Hot Fuzz, he delivered an over-the-top film that laughed at the absurd elements of action movies while celebrating those same elements. Scott Pilgrim works in the same vein: it is hilarious and absurd, and yet it's clear he has a deep appreciation for the original subject matter.
There is absolutely nothing I would change about this movie. Scott Pilgrim is superbly written and features pitch perfect editing. It's laugh-out-loud hilarious from beginning to end and simultaneously presents some legitimately well done action. The movie is gorgeous and imaginative, creative and stimulating.
Shaun of the Dead is one of my favorite movies, but Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is better. It's funny, action-packed and wickedly clever. This is a cult classic in the making.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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