With its short attention span, graphic-novel source material, video-game structure, deep-tracks pop-culture references and affectless hero whose geeky exterior conceals a gooey, sentimental core, Scott Pilgrim may be the perfect distillation of the early-twentysomething zeitgeist circa 2010.That’s the good news – and also the bad news.
Bass-playing, jobless slacker Scott (Cera) falls for Ramona Flowers (Winstead), whose purple locks and cool demeanour at least make a nice change from the usual manic-pixie dream girl. She also has some baggage, in the form of her ‘seven evil exes’, whom Scott must battle if he wants to date her.
Wright chops the screen up into multiple pieces in a nod to Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic-book style and fills that screen with pop-up information and animated add-ons (little pink hearts explode from a kiss, a telephone emits the word ring when it rings).
While the style is frantic, the characters remain numb and distracted, as if they’re waiting for a tweet about an impromptu party somewhere. For a while, that blend of jittery caffeination and sleepy hipster cool is charming, but soon it becomes exhausting.
Puzzlingly, Wright doesn’t do enough to differentiate the battles. The first ex (Bhabha) makes a few nods to his Indian heritage, and Evans does some droll stuff as a movie star, but for the most part, the battles look and feel the same; I found myself keeping count so I knew how many were yet to come.
That could be forgiven if Scott were someone we could care about, but Cera is the wrong man for the job. Yes, Scott’s meant to be a bit of a self-centred drip, but Cera is the kind of drip that makes you call for a plumber. Hank Sartin