DEFEAT SEVEN EVIL EXES TO WIN THE GIRL? NO PROBLEM
By T.T. Stern-Enzi
The titular twentysomething alt-rocking playboy slacker (Michael Cera), currently
involved with a cute high school girl named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the actual woman of his dreams, but then has to defeat her seven evil exes in order to have the chance to become her next ex. Sounds like an evil and rather cruel joke that might have sprung from the mind of a comic book genius intent on attracting the niche audience of readers out there who want their comics and graphic novels to be about a little something more than spandex-clad superheroes saving the world or the galaxy. Real life relationship drama requires its own brand of heroics, right?
It most certainly does, but a curious thing happened as Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) grabbed the reins of this adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic series Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Wright, whose next project is rumored to be another comic book rendering – Marvel’s little known Ant-Man property – decided to play games with our expectations, quite literally, by shifting the world of Scott Pilgrim into that of an old school video game with musical (think Bollywood) aspirations. So our little Pilgrim earns tokens and points for each defeat (and gets an extra life which comes in handy in a pinch), while the movie, as Wright has explained in publicity interviews, expresses itself through fight sequences, reminiscent of characters breaking into song and dance numbers in musicals.
It must be said that Cera adds Scott Pilgrim to his list of “Michael Cera” clones (I do so long for the day when he actually acts and creates a new character rather than simply relying on his own dorky persona to carry the burden), but at least the superhero of your own game aspect guarantees that Cera takes action.
Fortunately, the movie spices things up with the in-joke of having Brandon Routh (Superman from Superman Returns) and Chris Evans (first The Fantastic Four’s Human Torch and now Captain America) as two of the dastardly evil exes. And the mastermind behind the league is none other than Jason Schwartzman who really seems like a Lex Luthor-type just waiting for the opportunity to hatch such an evil plot. There is something so on the nose about the cast and the execution that makes this World more reality-based than not, even with all of its comic book and videogame affectations.
It could just be the fact that, at the root of it all, Scott and Ramona are just two people with more than their share of relationship baggage that they need to deal with before moving on. In fact, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World can be viewed as a more kick-ass cousin of sorts to last summer’s stylish (500) Days of Summer.