Is Michael Cera underrated? He famously “only plays one character.” But isn’t that always the complaint about actors who’ve been typecast. What does Scott Pilgrim really have in common with George-Michael Bluth, or Evan from Superbad, or that short-shorts guy from Juno? George-Michael is nerdy and dumb, Evan was nerdy but smart, and short-shorts guy was… I dunno, kind of quaint, I guess. He never really got a full character in that movie (Did he even have a name? Was it something super-hipstery? I bet it was hipstery. <checking> His name was Paulie Bleeker. So, yes).
Scott, though, isn’t nerdy at all, he’s just bucket o’ rocks-level dumb, and Cera gets to bring his small-voiced, off-beat comedic sensibility to the role. Almost everything Cera says here is laugh-out-loud funny. I wasn’t sold on Cera as the cool rocker kid, or the cool anything kid, and now that he's 22, I'm getting less sold on him as a kid at all. But he and director Edgar Wright seem like a perfect comedic match. He’s fantastic as the consistently quizzical titular hero.
Scott Pilgrim feels like the kind of movie that shows where movies are going, for good and for ill (I’m in favor). It’s frenetically paced, packed with flashy special effects that whiz in from all directions, and tosses off jokes pell-mell in a wild dash to the finish. The critics who disliked it said scathing things about it being “a movie for an ADD generation,” as if filmmakers should make movies for generations other than their target audience. My favorite criticism was that “the film is, like the comic's creator, tragically Canadian.” I’m not totally sure what that means, but I’m pretty sure that’s racist. But they are right, it sometimes feels more like you’re watching a Saturday morning cartoon after six bowls of Lucky Charms than it does a feature film
But let’s appreciate, for once, a movie that is not for everyone for still being very good at what it is. I get tired of film geeks harping that “not nearly enough of America” saw X documentary (this year it's either Waiting For Superman or Restrepo, and it's pretty much the same group who saw both), or infrequent moviegoers looking scornfully at vaguelly artsy movies and saying loudly (why are these people always so loud?) “who would want to see that?” on their yearly pilgrimage to see a Fockers movie. Scott Pilgrim is energetic and entertaining and – this is truly shocking in this day and age – completely unique. And someday we will only watch movies that look exactly like it on our space iPods (It's like an iPod, but it works in space. I guess. I'm not good at imagining the future).