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SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (director/writer: Edgar Wright; screenwriters: Michael Bacall/based on the graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley; cinematographer: Bill Pope; editors: Jonathan Amos/Paul Machliss; music: Nigel Godrich; cast: Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Ramona Flowers), Kieran Culkin (Wallace Wells), Chris Evans (Lucas Lee), Anna Kendrick (Stacey Pilgrim), Alison Pill (Kim Pine), Brandon Routh (Todd Ingram), Ellen Wong (Knives Chau), Aubrey Plaza (Julie), Mark Webber (Steven Stills), Jason Schwartzman (Gideon Graves), Johnny Simmons (Young Neil); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Marc Platt/Eric Gitter/Nira Park/Edgar Mr. Wright; Universal Pictures; 2010)
Totally geeky.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Totally geeky. The 36-year-old British filmmaker Edgar Wright (“Hot Fuzz”/”Shaun of the Dead”) directs this hyper youth rock band on the rise coming-of-age film based on the graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley and cowrites it with Michael Bacall. As much as I wanted to like it because of its high energy, its super cool visuals, the right way its CGIs were used and its attempt to be fresh, I found it not possible to tune in to its loud superficial music without my ears ringing, its bizarre surreal fantasy romance story without becoming nauseous at its banality, its selfish droll dweeb antihero without being reminded of him as a pompous asshole (liking the shaky voiced Michael Cera is an acquired taste that I haven’t yet acquired), its ambitious but unfulfilling pop culture in-joke comedy without grimacing instead of laughing (I think you must be someone who frequently says “whatever” to fully dig the annoying jokes), and just about everything else about it. Though I can see the audience the film targets totally going for it big time (to each his own!).

Mild-mannered jerky slacker wannabe Lothario Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is an unemployed 22-year-old living in wintry Toronto in a tiny one-room basement apartment with a playful acerbic tongued gay roommate Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin), who along with his sister (Anna Kendrick) offer wry comments on Pilgrim’s adventures throughout. Pilgrim plays bass guitar for a garage band called Sex Bob-omb (the other members include frontman Mark Webber, drummer Alison Pill and super sub Johnny Simmons). Being a band member makes Pilgrim sexually appealing even though he’s a dwork. Last year the rock singer in a rival band, Envy Adams (Brie Larson), dumped Pilgrim and left him heart-broken. On the rebound Pilgrim‘s dating an innocent Chinese 17-year-old virgin high school student, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), who becomes a band groupie and thinks Pilgrim’s band is the coolest. But he dumps Knives when the girl of Pilgrim’s dreams, sporting dyed red streaks of hair in her pageboy cut, suddenly appears on his doorstep delivering a package, the mysterious punk-styled dresser, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who just moved here from NYC to begin a new life. Ramona says to win her over, he must defeat in battle her seven despicable league of exes. While Pilgrim’s band is in a contest in town to determine which band is the loudest, he fights Ramona’s exes in totally silly bloodless Mortal Kombat battles that give the pic a Nintendo games look and an air of hollow absurdity.

The chaotic splashy Frank Tashlin-like Technicolor film is filled with festive gimmicky visuals and snarky self-absorbed characters–including its hardly lovable snake-like antihero. The notion of love to the romantic triangle of Pilgrim, Flowers and Knives is so cool and sensual, but it seems insufferably empty without heart. The trio reduce love to its most undemanding meaning, in a pic that strives to be entertaining but the harder it tries to be so cutely entertaining the more enervating I found it.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”