A day-glo metallic bubble-gum bubble snapping repeatedly in your visage; a sense-assailing barrage of pop-cultural riffs and punches; a shiny drum-roll of fluorescent frenetic madness; a frantic pixelated mishmash of slacker poses and Zwigoff-esque deadpan knowingness; a zeitgeist hurricane in an amphetamine cartoon arcade.
And, for the first twenty minutes, a total and utter disaster that drags you by the heels thereafter from daft set-piece to ridiculous computerised dust-up to trying-way-too-hard coin-op sequence. And sequence is the word: this is sequence after sequence of lightly adjoined but very samey oddness.
This film is tricky to encapsulate, so here is a brief alternative review that does the job, in one handy paragraph, of telling you what you can expect — simply throw the following words into a barrel and give it a roll: bleep, squirk, rattle, vibrate, thrum, backlit multi-hued perspex, archetype backstory, syncopation, Daniel Clowes, riff, whatever, record store, synthetic orgy, loudness, kissing scene, arcade fight, x-box, rainbow, digital orgasm, Royal Tenenbaums, metal flowers, pop-culture, Beck, game over. Press button to receive at least half of your coins back, thanks Edgar.
Re-assemble in any order and you get the idea: the plot is meaningless. Seven evil exes of girl-of-dreams must be defeated in a series of computer game alternative reality fights. Amidst, the girl being tarried over seems largely unmoved, as though she’s been drafted in from the margins of a Daniel Clowes sketch and is kind of like, duh, am I worth all the trouble? Like, I’m 2-D as opposed to to die for? Another girl called Knives stalks Scott. His gay housemate has gay encounters. His band is quite likable in a none-more-indie (an indie which doesn’t really exist but now does as a kind of super-unimpressed shrugging dyspepsia) stereotypically underwhelmed way. Lots of loud, twinkling things happen in a hurtling, electronically alluring way and Wes Anderson becomes a bit of a touchstone as the film plays out.
Press start: I hated it, my thumbs twiddled an imaginary joypad, I wondered whether or not Kieran Culkin dyed his hair black, I nearly left, then I was impressed at its mad mindless determination to ignore my inability to get on its wavelength, then I had a bit of fun, then Jason Schwartzman both annoyed and entertained me. Then I wondered why the drummer and the girl in question weren’t cast vice-versa. By which breathless time the game, literally, was nearly up and I was deeply ambivalent. Like after a McDonalds meal. An infusion of additives, sugar and artificial nourishment, a few brief highs, a puzzled, queasy comedown.
The fight scenes: hallucinatory life-sized pinball. Brief, rebooted Adam West-era-esque Batman skirmishes that feel like Richard Lester meets Tekken. The demise of every evil ex being met with a rattling shower of glinting silver coins. Yes: it is a lot like an ejaculatory arcade wet dream. Ker-ching!
Hold: Mary Elizabeth Winstead knows what’s going on and tries to have fun with it. Michael Cera is Michael Cera – you like him. Brandon Routh is a rare funny spot.
Nudge: the rest of the cast. Nothing wrong, there’s just too many of them stacked up to make any purchase on your brain. I can’t remember them. Mad twins? Blonde lesbian? They were quite good. Weren’t they?
Collect: your thoughts about this film. And good luck with that.
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is often entertaining, but far too much of it doesn’t work and is lost (the source material runs to around 1000 pages which might tell you something) amidst the swarm of relentless delirium that Edgar Wright almost gets away with pummelling you with. The music and visuals are often startlingly good. It’s a very peculiar, buoyantly absurdist, squirking, bouncing, restless electro-indie showreel that genuinely doesn’t seem bothered whether you like it or not. Maybe you will, maybe not. Toss a token.