Director Edgar Wright’s latest movie is based on the popular series of graphic novels about Scott Pilgrim, an often-clueless, out of work musician who falls for a girl named Ramona and has to fight her seven evil exes in a mode that is half superhero, half computer game. In other words, it’s a Comic-Con Quadrella.
Those who were born before 1980, don’t recognize gamer terms, and are easily confused by a cuddle puddle of comics, Bollywood, indie music, and the omni-connectedness of the 2010’s, will either find this an imaginative anthropological journey or an unintelligibly precious mish-mash of smug self-awareness. Those who are in the right age group will either find it uniquely speaking to their own sense of alienation mixed with a boundary-less
hive-mind ultimate oversharing — or an unintelligibly precious mish-mash of smug self-awareness.
I thought it was cute and funny and surprisingly sweet. Director Edgar Wright (“Shawn of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”) tells the story with great energy and imagination, incorporating an pan-media range of story-telling techniques. When Scott has a realization, Wright has a quick cut to a parking meter with a needle that swings from the red “no clue” to the green “gets it.” Another character’s feelings are expressed when the pink, fluffy word L-O-V-E wafts in Scott’s direction.
Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera, of course) is a nice if somewhat clueless guy whose cluelessness is tolerated and sometimes enabled by his roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin, employing a terrific, seen-it-all-and-finds-it-amusing deadpan), his fellow band mates (Sex Bob Omb, and his high school girlfriend Knives (Ellen Wong). Yes, her name is Knives and she is his high school girlfriend not because he met her in high school but because she is in high school. What do they do together? “She tells me about how yearbook club went and once we almost held hands on the bus.”
And then Scott sees Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and in a time-honored tradition that goes back even before Hot Pockets and Nintendo, love will make him braver, stronger, and able to consider the feelings of others for pretty much the first time in his slackery life.
But first he has to fight her seven evil ex-boyfriends, I mean exes. Each one is a physical manifestation of anyone’s insecurities in a new relationship. Will he be strong and brave enough for her? Pure enough? Successful enough? What have they got that he hasn’t got? On the way to understanding, I felt big, pink, fluffy L-O-V-E wafting from me toward the screen.