Mortal combat

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

He’s sitting on a toilet.

He’s sitting on a toilet.

Rated 4.0

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a film that nicely encapsulates the state of current young adult lives, a world where patience is lost, music and technology rule, and boys really dig girls with constantly changing hair colors. Edgar Wright’s adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels is a kinetic visual feast and an often hilarious love story that’s like no other movie you are likely to see soon, or ever.

Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim, a 22-year-old Toronto resident rocking the world in a garage band and dating 17-year-old Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), a romantic achievement of which he is very proud. Knives worships him and his band to a point that’s somewhat alarming, and while Scott finds his time with her pleasant, he secretly yearns for something more.

That more comes in the form of Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a beautiful and somewhat droll woman who appears in his dreams before he actually meets her. They start dating—behind Knives’ back, a fact that doesn’t even register with Scott because he’s so blindingly in love. All is well until Scott learns he must battle Ramona’s “Seven Evil Exes” in a series of showdowns that get progressively more epic and fantastically staged.

Wright, who also directed the already classic Shaun of the Dead, isn’t shooting for major depth with this one. He’s crafted a nearly two-hour videogame, complete with arcade sounds and gamer instructions. In some ways, the movie comes off as a slightly cynical take on the state of a modern society dependent on cell phones, texting and videogames. One of the film’s best running gags is how Scott’s gay roommate Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin) can call or text Scott’s sister Stacey (Anna Kendrick) with news about Scott’s love life with lightning speed, even while Wallace is unconscious.

Each of the evil exes shows up to do battle one at a time, including film star Lucas Lee (Chris Evans), who sometimes recruits the help of his stuntmen to battle Scott, and super bass player Todd Ingram (Brandon Routh), who uses the power of veganism to face off. Routh, who has temporarily lost his job as Superman, is one of the funnier presences in the film. Christopher Nolan, who’s producing the next Superman film, needs to see this movie and perhaps reconsider Routh for the role. He owns the moments he has onscreen in this film and deserves another chance at Supe. I know, it’s off the subject, but it needs to be said.

Cera actually makes for an impressive action star in this movie, throwing punches and kicks in credible fashion. When Scott’s band Sex Bob-omb plays at home or onstage during a battle of the bands, Cera truly looks the part of a bass player rather than some movie star just faking it. And, ironically, Cera has never delivered a more well-rounded, “real” performance than he has in this one, a significant feat considering that this film rarely stops to breathe. He’s funny, sweet and clearly at the top of his game as an actor.

Winstead is a wise choice for a dream girl role. The camera loves her, and so will just about anybody who beholds her in this movie. Kendrick, so good in last year’s Up in the Air, is very funny in her small, fast-talking role. Culkin gets the film’s biggest laughs in perhaps the greatest role ever played by anybody with a last name of Culkin.

Wright has made some superior music choices for the soundtrack, getting Radiohead producer and musician Nigel Godrich to provide the score, as well as contributions from Beck (who composed Sex Bob-Omb’s songs) and Broken Social Scene.

With this and Kick-Ass, 2010 is proving to be a good year for graphic novel movies. It is still, however, a shit year for Sex and the City movies and movies featuring Brendan Fraser.