*** Director: Edgar Wright Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin
Geek chic goes into overdrive in Edgar Wright's messy mash-up of comic books, video games and Looney Tunes-style violence. Adapted by Wright from Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novel, it's the British-born director's first outing away from home soil - and he desperately misses the talents of Simon Pegg, the co-writer/star of his affectionate zombie-driven debut Shaun of the Dead and its cop parody follow-up Hot Fuzz. Instead, he has Michael Cera, the go-to geek from Superbad and Juno (an act beginning to wear painfully thin) as Scott Pilgrim, a Toronto-based slacker who plays the bass in a garage band, lives with a wisecracking friend (Culkin) and is pursued relentlessly by the 17-year-old Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). But the film truly kicks off when Scott falls for Ramona Flowers (Winstead), and is forced to confront her "seven evil exes" to win her heart. So begins a tedious countdown, as Scott karate chops his way through Ramona's former lovers (including the Superman Returns star Brandon Routh and Rushmore's Jason Schwartzman) as if he were stuck inside a giant PlayStation game. Cue Wright's adolescent excitement as he attempts to pay tribute to the world of Sonic the Hedgehog, with characters exploding into coins. An acerbic Culkin is the film's hidden gem, but he can never compete with the gaudy graphics Wright insists on scrawling over the screen. Teenagers incapable of putting the breaks on for more than a second will probably love Scott Pilgrim but for the rest of us, it's game over.