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“Scott Pilgrim” wins over our critic, sharply divides others

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: In the battle of Sean O’Connell vs. My “Scott Pilgrim” review, a busy workload is making sure the latter defeats the former.

I tried to carve enough time out of an unusually busy work week to put “Scott Pilgrim” thoughts on paper. But interviews, screenings, and a week-long trip out of town meant a full review was not to be. Seeing as how so much has been said about Edgar Wright’s vibrant adaptation since its smashing debut at Comic-Con last month, I’m also not sure what’s left to add.

There’s a lot to praise regarding the visual panache of “Pilgrim,” though I thought most of the credit belongs to Bryan Lee O’Malley, who created the Scott Pilgrim’s video-game-inspired world, and not Wright.

“Pilgrim” trades in a hyperkinetic lingo that takes some getting used to, but once you understand its rhythms, it translates into a thrilling mash-up. Not many films could reference Bollywood, Shakespeare, an NBC sitcom, “Street Fighter” and the filmography of John Hughes without collapsing in a messy heap. “Pilgrim” doesn’t, and that’s worth celebrating.

Michael Cera made for a convincing superhero slacker (impressive, if you’ve ever seen the mild-mannered Cera in anything else). Yet he was upstaged by each actor and every cast as Ramona’s evil exes, from Chris Evans to the effortlessly sarcastic Jason Schwartzman. By the time Cera’s inimitable Scott Pilgrim was mowing down a small army of Chris Evans’ skateboard-wielding stunt doubles, Wright’s valentine to cinematic excess more than wore me down. It won me over.

The same can’t be said for all critics, however, and it’s interesting to see how polarizing “Scott Pilgrim” is with the movie-reviewing community. I don’t want this to be a “online geeks get it, print dinosaurs don’t” summation. But the film’s reviews, collected on Rotten Tomatoes (with a 78% Fresh as of Friday), tend to split down that dividing line.

Todd Gilchrist, who writes for us but also reviews for Cinematical, is quoted as saying the film is “an ambitious, one-of-a-kind, fully-realized, smart, sensitive and satisfying work of cinema.”

Bill Gibron of FilmCritic.com gives it a perfect 5-out-of-5 stars, claiming it’s “the most mind-bending hipster obsessive delight since Baz Luhrmann turned Moulin Rouge into a Nirvana-spouting, synapse-shocking spectacle.”

Other “Top Critics,” like Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter,” say, “This is a discouragingly limp movie where nothing is at stake.”

And James Rocchi of MSN Movies echoes the sentiment, stating, “”Scott Pilgrim” devotes itself so firmly to re-creating the look of O’Malley’s saga that it forces and fumbles the feel, full of (indie-rock) sound and (kung-fu) fury, (emotionally) signifying nothing.”

On which side will you fall? See “Scott Pilgrim,” which is in theaters today, then come back and tell us what you thought.

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