For a film that’s almost substance-free, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is surprisingly enjoyable.
Director Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz”) and a big cast deliver a high-energy goof-fest that amuses without saying anything.
Based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novels, “Scott Pilgrim” is about a Toronto dweeb (Michael Cera – who else?) smitten by one Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a girl with punky Day-Glo hair and an attitude of studied indifference.
There’s a catch: Ramona informs Scott that she has had a colorful romantic past and that to win her hand he must battle and defeat her “seven evil exes.”
They range from a skateboarding action movie star (Chris Evans) and a vegan master of telekinesis (Brandon Routh) to a lesbian martial artist (Mae Whitman) and a sleazy svengali (Jason Schwartzman) who might actually be Satan himself .
Their brawls are patterned after video games. An onscreen counter keeps track of the score, and when Scott delivers a fatal blow his opponent explodes in a shower of gold coins.
No, it doesn’t make a bit of sense. Get used to it.
Nor, for that matter, does Scott’s magnetism for women. The guy looks like and has all the personality of a fetus, but the ladies think he’s pure catnip.
“Scott Pilgrim” is so hip and ironic that it hasn’t time for anything as mundane as common sense or recognizable emotion.
What it does have is an astonishingly high energy level. This may be the most caffeinated movie you’ve ever seen, filled with furious editing, eruptions of cartoonish special effects and a guitar-screeching alt-rock soundtrack.
There are also a handful of really funny supporting performers, notably Kieran Culkin, who steals his every scene as Wallace, Scott’s uber-hip gay roommate. A running joke has the very straight Scott awakening each morning to find himself sharing the apartment’s sole bed with Wallace and an ever- growing assortment of men.
In the end, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” falls prey to its own diminishing returns. Scott’s big battles seem interchangeable, and by the time it’s over you wish it had ended 20 minutes earlier.
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