"Scott Pilgrim" conjures a limp comic-book world

Fri Jul 23, 2010 5:00pm EDT
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By Kirk Honeycutt

SAN DIEGO (Hollywood Reporter) - Chore No. 1 is accomplished: The fanboys and girls gave a resounding shriek of approval to Universal's "Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World" at Comic-Con following its "surprise" screening here at this event that has become a kind of Halloween for adults.

But the question remains -- will anybody else care?

Director/producer/co-writer Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead," "Hot Fuzz") has successfully reproduced the imagery and worldview of Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novel of the same name, itself a mash-up of manga, video games, music videos and comic-book iconography. It's fair to say that a significant number of moviegoers would count that no achievement at all, but none of them is likely to see a movie called "Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World."

So Universal should have a youth hit in the domestic market when the film opens August 13. A wider audience among older or international viewers seems unlikely.

Scott Pilgrim -- O'Malley flatters himself by borrowing the last name of Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five" hero -- is played by Michael Cera, Hollywood's go-to guy for dewy-eyed male innocence that somehow isn't cloying. Scott is a geeky kid in Toronto -- check that, he's a geeky twentysomething playing bass guitar in a talent-free garage band, who should be getting on with his life instead of playing guitar and dating a high-school girl.

Everyone, from his younger, scandalized sister (Anna Kendrick) and weirdly gay roommate (Kieran Culkin) -- weird not because he's gay but because Scott sleeps in the same bed with him, but "nothing" is going on -- to fellow band members (Mark Webber and Alison Pill) wonders about that 17-year-old girl, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), in his life.

Perhaps it has something to do with the devastation caused a year prior when his ex (Brie Larson) broke his heart and, worse yet, became a rock star.

None of this matter when Scott's eyes seize on Romana Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a mysteriously dangerous woman with constantly changing hair colors, who totally vamps him. He is so obsessed with her -- and she seems to return the favor, albeit with some reluctance -- that he is willing to battle to the death her "seven evil exes" to win her heart.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Michael Cera is interviewed as he arrives for the premiere of the film "Paper Heart" at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 17, 2009. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>