For all of Scott Pilgrim's adherence to the graphic novels upon which it's based—the pop-art pows and thwacks, the video-game imagery, the rock-and-roll references, the merging of chop-socky action and puppy-dog-sweet sentiment—it goes even deeper, conveying the ache pulsating between the lines of Bryan Lee O'Malley's original comic. Edgar Wright's film version is still essentially The Oldest Story in the Book: Boy meets girl and has to fight to keep her. And the boy—Scott Pilgrim, played by Michael Cera—is a stunted mess stranded in deep-freeze Canada. He's got himself a high-school girlfriend named Knives (Ellen Wong), plays bass in a decent but never-gonna-make-it pop-punk trio called Sex Bob-Omb, and shares an apartment and bed with gay roomie Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin). At first, Scott's but another in a looooong line of mopey, tousled kidults played by Cera, who seems to have a range from A to A. But as soon as Scott meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), with seven evil exes whom Scott has to dispatch if he wants to keep going out with her, the kid sprouts some fuzz on his peaches. Out goes the whine, down goes a straight shot of big-boy bourbon. As he did in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Wright immerses his heroes in pop culture's detritus and diversions, but doesn't drown them in them. You don't have to be dazzled or tickled by the movie, or get every joke, to be touched by it, too.
Dream couple Cera and Winstead.
Opens at Metro and other theaters, Fri., Aug. 13. Rated PG-13. 108 minutes.