Double Negative
Owen Gleiberman
August 11, 2010 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Current Status
In Season
112 minutes
Wide Release Date
Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Evans
Edgar Wright
Michael Bacall, Edgar Wright
Romance, ActionAdventure

We gave it a B+

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is the first rock & roll kung fu videogame youth love story. Directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead), it’s based on a comic-book series by Bryan Lee O’Malley. At times, it may remind you of other films adapted from graphic novels (notably Ghost World), and even of Wes Anderson, but it’s got a madly clever and playful let’s-try-it-on prankishness all its own. It also has Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, a 22-year-old Toronto slacker who plays bass in a band called Sex Bob-Omb and is something of a babe magnet. Cera, with nerdy-verging-on-girly gestures, a voice that sounds like it hasn’t broken yet, and his overall turtle-ish vibe, may be the unlikeliest leading man in the history of cinema — but let’s be clear that I mean that as a compliment. Geeky as he is, he’s so fast, his line readings driven by a hunger that never spills into self-pity, that he gets you on his wavelength by staying one ironically desperate step ahead.

The movie, with its charming visual tropes (phones that literally go ”Ring,” a wheel of fortune that offers Scott two possible responses, one of which he takes), is a romantic comedy that moves at the speed of texting. Scott starts off by dating Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), a high school student who adores him; he then falls for Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a violet-haired, doe-eyed punk fatale with seven ”evil exes” he must defeat, as if they were videogame levels, to win her over. Winstead, a born star, is like a kewpie-doll Edie Sedgwick. She makes Ramona a girl worth fighting for, and fight Scott does — a bit too much, by the end. I dug the freshness of Scott Pilgrim, but I wish that it had a little less kick-ass. Still, it’s a true original. B+

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