Review: 'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World'

(Three-and-a-half stars)

Audacious director Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead") throws a jolt of energy into the summer movie season with this imaginative romp. Rock-music, video-game and comic-book sensibilities collide for a refreshingly unique blend of action and comedy.

The quirky story centers on likable loser Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), the bass player for mediocre garage band Sex Bob-omb. Scott's strange love life -- the 22-year-old is dating a schoolgirl five years his junior, and his ex-girlfriend is a tempestuous singer -- gets an adrenaline boost when he meets the enigmatic Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Scott and Ramona enjoy an almost instant chemistry that leaves Scott on cloud nine, until Ramona drops some unsettling news.

If the two are to be together, Scott must defeat Ramona's "seven evil exes."

Suddenly young Mr. Pilgrim is thrown into battle with a handful of dangerous foes, from skater-turned-movie-star Lucas Lee (Chris Evans) to vegan bassist Todd Ingram (Brandon Routh) and sleazy record executive Gideon Graves (Jason Schwartzman). Unsolicited (though often helpful) advice from his gay roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin) propels Scott through the sticky wickets of love, romance and survival.

British auteur Wright uses an array of effective film techniques to bring the popular graphic novel to the big screen. Comic- and video-game-inspired visual effects and wildly inventive transitions and sound effects add to the film's vibrant flair. Even the Universal logo before the opening credits is stylized with a classic video-game look and sound, giving the audience a sense of the playful quirkiness ahead.

Cera plays the geek/hero role perfectly, giving the character a good balance of humor and emotion. The actors all play off each other seamlessly, each bringing a jovial quality to the cast. Evans and Routh ham it up as arrogant exes, and "Up in the Air" standout Anna Kendrick is a welcome addition as Pilgrim's judgmental older sister. Also, look for a lively cameo by Thomas Jane (of "The Punisher" and HBO's "Hung").

Some may find "Scott Pilgrim" too odd and too flashy for its own good. The visual elements are varied and persistent -- I couldn't help but think of "The Simpsons" episode in which the family members all have seizures after watching an overly stimulating Japanese cartoon. But for fans of the genre it really works, and certainly helps set the film apart from standard fare. One thing is for certain: "Scott Pilgrim" is a cinematic experience unlike anything you've ever seen.

Rock on.

Rated PG-13 for stylized violence, sexual content, language and drug references. 1 hour, 53 minutes.

— Tyler Hanley

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