Not much to say about Scott Pilgrim. The rabid video game, manga geek fanboys who are going to drool over this movie have likely already been to see it. And there’s no doubt that Edgar Wright has made a technical marvel, but then again, he’s always been a brilliant director in that regard. Each of the actors really gives their role 100%, and the film benefits as a result.
However, I’d really have preferred to see just about anyone in this role other than Michael Cera. Watching Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead kissing is just flat out cringe-worthy, and seeing her paired against a young man with the body of a twelve-year old girl is unflattering to her. And while Cera does sincere and faux-innocent well, there’s also something about him that’s hipsterishly smarmy in the most unthreatening, asexual way possible. He’s simply unattractive on every level, and that includes his personality. I’d much rather have seen someone like Kick Ass‘ Aaron Johnson in the role– you know, a geeky, nerdy guy who is still a member of the male sex that you can root for.
Once you look past Cera’s casting, the problem with the film is that it’s all style, no substance. It would make for a fun short film, but just doesn’t have the emotional gravitas to anchor 2 hours of video game fighting, no matter how well Edgar Wright works with the actors or how technically creative he gets. We’re never given a reason to care about Winstead’s Ramona Flowers beyond her cute haircut and her cute pout, and we’re never given a reason to care about Cera’s Scott Pilgrim beyond the fact that he’s our cloying narrator. And finally, we’re never given a reason to care about why they should be together or believe that they have any feelings for each other beyond what might develop during a long stare across a crowded club.
It’s worth a look because of Edgar Wright’s hyper-kinetic direction and his determination to make anything work, and the fact that all of the young actors bring a similar attitude and commitment. Brandon Routh’s super-powered vegan is certainly a highlight, as is Kieran Culkin’s gay roommate, and Allison Pill does wonders with her small, supporting role as the drummer in Scott’s band. But the film’s greatest strengths are also its greatest weaknesses; and the unrelenting energy and visual antics have a tendency to wear out their welcome and become abrasive as much as they delight and entertain. Edgar Wright certainly has proven he has the skills to make a killer super-hero film; hopefully he’ll get his long-gestating Marvel Ant Man project put into production one of these days, while remembering to include plenty of character and emotional reality along with the ka-pow and ka-ching.