Who's In It: Michael Cera, Alison Pill, Mark Webber, Johnny Simmons, Ellen Wong, Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Hader
The Basics: Scott Pilgrim is 22 and lives in Toronto with his gay best friend, plays in a band, is dating a 17-year-old girl named Knives and has now fallen for a girl named Ramona whose hair color changes weekly. Except all of that stuff is happening simultaneously in both real life and inside Scott's video game life. Not on parallel tracks or anything, it's all just the same thing at the same time. It's the fake, all-snow Toronto that exists inside a digital world where the scrawny boy-man and his supporting cast are both players and roles being played. The object: defeat Ramona's seven evil ex-romantic partners (as they die they rain down coins on Scott's head) and win her. Also, perhaps, maybe grow up a little. That last part proves to be mostly optional, a kind of "if you feel like it" thing.
What's The Deal: Under the surface, this is a straightforward coming-of-age/get-the-girl movie with an old-fashioned set of conflicts and resolutions. But it's not overpraise to say that the surface is like nothing you've ever seen before. In fact, these are surfaces that actively upstage the plot, trying to become the entire movie. It takes a million moments from the visual culture of the past 30 years and compresses them into the kind of thing people who've made movies based on video games have tried to do this whole time and not quite achieved. It's aggressive and loud and, just like any nerdy kid playing a game where he slays dragons or ninjas or drug dealers, gets to have its cake and eat it, too, by reveling in Scott P's self-absorption and immaturity, then allowing him the option to cloak them all while he heroes it up in fantasy battle-land.
Whose Movie This Really Is: Edgar Wright has already directed the extremely cool Shaun of The Dead and (the sort of less extremely cool but still really funny) Hot Fuzz. He's the kind of filmmaker who knows exactly what he wants to do and how he wants to come across. He's still in the earliest part of his movie-making career but he's already comfortable throwing genres together and remixing them, the kind of thing you can only accomplish by having a truckload of self-assurance and by watching enough old Godard and Frank Tashlin movies. And seeing this film is witnessing him pushing everything forward a little bit.
Why It's Also Good For You: It forces its own visual logic on the audience, jumping from location to location just like in a game or a comic book. The next place you land may simply be the predicate of the sentence being spoken by a character. That character might not even finish the sentence, you'll just wind up there anyway. And while it forces its main player into a junkyard of narcissism, projection, powerlessness, ego and wobbly manhood, its supporting characters are all headstrong examples of young women (and one gay guy) who just just as easily be the protagonists of their own stories.