It was a mismatch from the start.
I walked into the movie theater for a screening of "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" knowing that I don't live in the same demographic area code as the members of the film's target audience.
I'm not in my teens or early 20s. I'm not a slacker. I did not grow up spending endless hours in front of video games. I'm not a comic book freak.
Clearly, this movie was not made for me.
But, I liked it anyway.
"Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" attacks many of the same themes of the John Hughes movies of my era -- "Sixteen Candles," "The Breakfast Club," "Pretty in Pink," etc. You've got characters cloaked in self-doubt, ennui, hopelessness, ambivalence, longing and all the other emotions of youth.
The action centers on a geeky, 22-year-old guy from Toronto named Scott Pilgrim (played by Michael Cera, who has cornered the market on that character), who hangs out with a bunch of interesting, loyal and somewhat geeky friends, and ends up falling for a cool, mysterious and seemingly unattainable girl, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
Before you scream -- "Stop! We've seen this film before!" -- you haven't.
Director and co-writer Edgar Wright, whose film is based on the comic book series by Bryan Lee O'Malley, injects the film with fantastical comic-book flourishes, jump cuts, split screens, cartoonish graphics, laugh tracks and things to keep things visually interesting without losing focus on the story.
In order to win Ramona's love, Scott Pilgrim -- erstwhile bass player for the band "Sex Bob-omb," must defeat her Seven Evil Exes in battles to the death. The fights, which combine elements of "The Matrix," "Terminator" and several Kung-Fu movies set against the backdrop of campy graphics and sound from the old "Batman" TV show (Think "Bam!" and "Kapow!"), may be a bit over the top for many older viewers not versed in the fantastical world of comic book imagery.
But, while churning out visually arresting shots and witty dialogue and allowing the bands to play some interesting music (much produced by Beck), Wright takes the audience in unexpected directions while keeping his eye on the underlying story that Pilgrim must come to grips with his relationship with women. He's dumped a few in his wake, and a platonic and somewhat absurd "rebound" relationship with a adoring 17-year-old high school student Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) allows him to take the final steps toward -- gasp -- maturity.
Cera's support system comes from his bandmates, sister and gay roommate Wallace Wells (played in a show-stopping turn by Kieran Culkin) and actually walks into the closing credits having shown some personal growth.
After leaving the theater, I wondered what the response to the film would be from its various constituents. There will be comic book devotees who rip it for being a "sellout" or not true to the original. There always are.
I also imagine some film critics will rip it because of their disdain for the target audience -- basement-dwelling slackers hooked on video games and comics. Some might find the over-the-top fight scenes overindulgent or criticize the pasty performance of Cera or Jason Schwartzman's smarmy turn as "G-Man."
I liked it enough that it's one I could see myself buying on DVD.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.