Director Edgar Wright’s last two films – “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” – pulled off a neat editing trick. They’d mash a few sequences together into a narrative paste, all the better to rush to the next gag, the next one-liner.
His latest film, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” is made almost entirely of those uber-brief sequences.
The film, based on the graphic novel series, treats your attention span as if it was an unwelcome rash.
Michael Cera stars as a would-be rock star who falls for a girl with seven uber-powerful exes. But the real star is Generation RightThisVerySecond, since the film kowtows to our youth obsessed, technology drenched age.
Cera, playing the all important Michael Cera role, stars as young bass player trying to get his band off the ground. With a name like Sex Bob-Omb, it isn’t easy. But music takes a back seat when he feasts his eyes on Ramona (the fetching Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
Little does Scott know Mary’s parade of ex-beaus is a mile long, and he’ll have to battle each and every one if he wants to win her heart.
Why? Hmm. Because almost nothing in the film makes much sense. It’s a sight and sound assault that does have its advantages.
Wright couldn’t direct a movie without making audiences laugh early and often. Here, he dabbles in retro-gags (Pac-Man!), video game shout outs – the bad guys dissolve into tinkling coins when they’re defeated – and other cuthing edge references to milk laughs from us.
It nearly always works.
And the cast on hand to do Wright’s bidding can’t be blamed. Brandon Routh tweaks his super image as a blonde, vegan fueled ex, and Chris Evans dabbles in his egomaniacal side as another of Ramona’s nasty exes.
But the narrative skips over the ostensible story like a record player spinning a broken disk, and the script is so hip even Diablo Cody might screech, “enough, already!”
The film almost feels like another ’80s flashback until someone mentions “blogging” and we’re spun right back into the here and now.
“Pilgrim” might be the closest thing to a film version of a video game you’ll ever see. The music. The battles. The titles popping up on the screen. Heck, we’re even treated to a “pee” meter which measures … well, you know.
When Scott gets pummeled he simply pops back up – no harm done. Where did all these people get their super powers? And did Scott know he had them, too?
The questions pile up, and the answers are likely besides the point. What you’re left with is a love story without spark and characters without character – save Kieran Culkin who steals a few moments as Scott’s gay roommate.
Watching “Scott Pilgrim” is akin to standing behind a great video game player in action. At first, the blinking lights and sweet effects are captivating. But you’ll soon wish you’d wander off to play your own game, even if your skill level can’t measure up to the guy or gal whose shoulder you’re peering around.