Based on the cult comic-book series by Bryan Lee O'Malley, "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" is speaking directly to a generation raised on video games, cell phones, rock music, television, comic books and, yes, even movies. In fact, it runs the risk of alienating everyone else - but too bad for them. It's fresh, funny, inventive and unique.
Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim, geeky bassist for the Toronto rock band Sex Bob-Omb (say it). His life is upended by an alluringly jaded alt-babe, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Against all odds she agrees to date him, but first Scott must destroy her seven ex-lovers, superheroes with a range of bizarre powers.
What genre is this? A new one, possibly. We're witnessing a young man's emotions being translated, awkwardly but endearingly, into metaphors that make sense to him. Scott is literally competing with Ramona's sexual history, which means conquering his fears with martial arts and giant swords. Cera punches and kicks against puppy-dog type, but he's only one part of a terrific young cast that includes a show-stealing Kieran Culkin.
The film can wear on you, but director and co-writer Edgar Wright packs in brilliant sight gags and clever edits to make up for the lulls. At times, "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" feels like "Breathless" or "Pulp Fiction," a movie that speaks its own modern, youthful language. For both better and worse, it feels no need to explain.