Cera defends his manhood in ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World'

by Tatiana Cooke | 8/23/10 10:00pm

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Michael Cera must battle his new love interest's seven ex-boyfriends in

The film tells the story of Scott Pilgrim, a sweet but jobless 23-year-old who falls hopelessly in love with Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Before he can become Ramona's new man, Pilgrim is forced to defeat her seven former boyfriends, the "League of Evil Exes."

The exes range from Todd Ingram (Brandon Routh), who gets his psychic powers and snazzy hairstyle from his vegan diet, to Ramona's seventh grade boyfriend, Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha).

The League of Evil Exes is headed by a gleefully evil Gideon Gordon Graves (Jason Schwartzman), the uber-hip head of a record company who wants Ramona for himself.

While the film's characters are extreme, they remain strangely believable as the movie unfolds. Playing the starry-eyed Knives Chau, actress Ellen Wong embodies the eager innocence of the never-been-kissed high school student without portraying a clueless victim.

Meanwhile, Scott's all-knowing older sister Stacey (Anna Kendrick) walks the line between loving and exasperated while doling out romantic advice to her younger brother. Kendrick gives a strong performance and deserves more screen exposure in the film than is granted.

"Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" is wonderfully directed and moves lightly from scene to scene without losing narrative flow. Director Edgar Wright who is also one of the film's producers is best known for his work on the movies "Hot Fuzz" and "Shaun of the Dead."

Wright lightens up on the dark humor in O'Malley's "Scott Pilgrim" and adds flavor to the movie through a loving spoof of video game graphics. He also manages to balance the plot and character development with delightfully retro visuals. Representations of synth beats in a "Battle of the Bands" competition form silver dragons that fight the rough-and-tumble gorilla creature formed by the music of Pilgrim's band "Sex Bob-Omb." In addition, the animated flashbacks fill the viewers in on Scott and Ramona's former lovers.

Cera's rendition of Scott yet another youthful boy on the cusp of maturity follows in the footsteps of Cera's breakthrough roles as Evan in "Superbad" and George-Michael in "Arrested Development." While Cera has the "goofy but endearing" persona down cold, it will be interesting to see when, if ever, he chooses to take on a more ambitious acting project.

Some of the funniest moments of the movie are mumbled asides or clever plays on words that make the film worth repeat viewings, but the movie is perhaps at its best in scenes in which Scott's gay roommate Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin) and Ramona's stereotyped exes appear and provide laughs without becoming cruel or insensitive.

The one lingering question left in the viewer's mind at the end of the movie is what, if anything, Scott has in him to break the hearts of the fabulous women he somehow seduces. Ramona, with her rainbow hair and sexy smile, remains way out of his league.

The 112 minutes add up to a very entertaining film, and "Scott Pilgrim" joins the ranks of one of the few date movies that both men and women are likely to enjoy.