SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD
Starring Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jason Schwartzman
Directed by Edgar Wright
Fans of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s six-part graphic-novel series, Scott Pilgrim, have been nervously anticipating its film adaptation, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, for over three years. Reasonably enough, there were some legitimate questions, including: How does one condense six books that rely heavily on video-game references, metaphor, and music-geek culture into a two-hour movie? The answer, it seems, was to hire director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead), who brings O’Malley’s deceptively simple novels to vivid, eye-popping life.
Scott Pilgrim (a surprisingly physical Michael Cera), the titular hero, is a 22-year-old slacker bass player in a Toronto-based garage-rock band called Sex Bob-Omb. He shares a bed with his gay roommate, Wallace (Kieran Culkin), is unemployed, and has a 17-year-old girlfriend, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), who’s still in high school.
Scott first sees his soulmate, Amazon.ca delivery girl Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), in a “dream” (it’s actually a portal in his brain) and finally asks her out after running in to her at a house party. Before they can be together, however, Scott learns he must defeat her seven evil exes, brought together by her latest ex, music executive Gideon Graves (Jason Schwartzman).
Translating the stylized “graphic” elements of the original graphic novel from the page to the screen is a daunting task, but Wright and his team provide a look that’s positively fierce. Whether it’s the remarkable cinematography (ho-hum Toronto is practically picturesque), CGI video-game homages (as exes are felled, their bodies dissolve into coins), or the frequent nods to O’Malley’s art and design, Scott Pilgrim is a visual tonic for the ADHD generation — in the best possible sense.
As a fan of the graphic novels, Wright makes some intriguing decisions about how to condense the series. The opening 20 minutes are almost entirely faithful to the first book, but, out of necessity, he moves away from O’Malley’s narrative structure without losing the story’s heart. Even those going in cold are likely to be wooed if they allow themselves to be.
Scott Pilgrim is the kind of movie that could very well define a generation, perfectly capturing that potentially lethal combination of naivete, cynicism, fear, and apathy that gets in the way of growing up.—Andrea Warner