Director Edgar Wright brings all of his love for comic books, video games, rock n roll and geek culture to bear on "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World," an effort that ultimately pays huge dividends on the silver screen.
"Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" stars Michael Cera in the title role, as a young man who meets the girl of his dreams -- literally -- only to learn that he must defeat her seven evil exes if he's to win her heart. Cera once again plays the nebbishy but soulful alt-rock 20-something, a role he appears doomed to reprise again and again until his chin fills out or his beard fills in. But what saves his performance from coming off as just more Cera are the super-hero battles and rock shows he finds himself embroiled in.
Liz Winstead is Ramona Flowers, the super sexy post-punk rocker delivery girl for Amazon who zips around Toronto on a pair of rollerblades. She conveys perfectly the wounded aloofness of a young woman with, well, seven evil exes. One of the few problems with the films is the casting of Cera and Winstead opposite one another. Individually they're fine, but next to each other, particularly in bed, they look mismatched. He's a wiry,nerdy man-child, she's a stone fox -- it's hard to believe she'd bring him his package, much less find him attractive, but it's a minor quibble.
Keiran Culkin as Pilgrim's roommate Wallace, Mark Webber as Sex Bob-Omb frontman Stephen Stills, Anna Kendrick as Pilgrim's sister and Aubrey Plaza as the foul-mouthed Julie Powers lead a supporting cast that fills every corner of the movie with sharp, funny performances. Chris Evans and Brandon Routh pitch in as well with great turns as Ramona's two most entertaining exes.
Sprinkled throughout the film are nods to video game culture that will be familiar to any member of the Atari and Coleco Generations -- character rankings, points, power levels, dollar values and noises spelled out a la "Batman" all appear on screen.
The fight sequences between Cera and the League of Evil Exes are all good to great, with inventive weaponry, awesome powers and WTF surprise twists at every turn that make for a fresh look to what could easily be a string of stock movie battles. Though the final fight gets a little convoluted, it ultimately works, thanks to a "Groundhog Day"-esque twist that saves the day.
And then there's the music, which is fantastic, with old songs from Frank Black, the Rolling Stones and T. Rex, as well as new songs from Beck, Broken Social Scene, Nigel Godrich and Dan the Automator. Cera's band, Sex Bob-Omb, and their rivals in Crash and The Boys do right by the material.
"Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" isn't just a paean to geekdom -- though it is very much that -- it's also a smart, inventive comedy and totally legitimate date movie as well. No, seriously, your boyfriend isn't trying to trick you, it's really good.