Most of the time, when I look at a movie--whether or not I'm inside the target demo-- I know what I'm looking at, I can understand its language, which tends to be fairly universal. Rarely have I felt more in a world that I do not comprehend, than at Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. But I knew when watching it that I was in the hands of a authoritative filmmaker who knew exactly what he was trying to achieve.
Part of Shaun of the Dead filmmaker Edgar Wright's mission was to connect to young people, which he clearly does. He invents new ways here to communicate teen thinking and feeling, referencing music, comics and video games. (This, the New Yorker critic Richard Brody gets right.) Never have I had more folks younger than I am talk about a movie using terms that sail right over my head.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (based on the comics) is certainly not like anything you’ve ever seen before. Wright mixes the structure of musicals and action films to break up what starts out as a fairly naturalistic relationship comedy with wildly fantastical action fights. While he is still dating a younger and nicer girl, Michael Cera’s character has to fight off the evil exes of his cool new girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). The movie is crammed with characters, color, music and graphics of the wham! bam! ding dong! variety.
While I respect the wit and originality of the film’s visual and aural design and script, some of the sprawling ensemble (Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Brandon Routh and Jason Schwartzman) nail the tone better than others. Cera and Winstead are not entirely engaging; Wright is not playing for romance here. Based on the wildly enthusiastic response at San Diego's Comic-Con, I’m sure that young moviegoers will turn out for this. But the film’s scope could be narrow.
Here's Metacritic, where the reviews are trending at 56. UPDATE: One critic in her late thirties gets the movie--and doesn't think critics should review its audience. Both the NYT's Tony Scott and the NY Press's Armond White praise the movie. I'm more with Anthony Lane.
Here's my flip cam interview with Edgar Wright, Part One:
And the trailer: