For a diminutive guy, Michael Cera knows how make an entrance. Kicking off the “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” Q&A at New York’s SoHo Apple Store, Cera blurted “Fuck PC’s!” into the mike, causing the crowd to erupt into fits of laughter. The fangirls seemed to emit a collective sigh.
Joining Cera onstage for the talk back that took place last Tuesday were his co-stars Anna Kendrick and Jason Schwartzman, along with “Pilgrim”‘s UK bred director Edgar Wright. Overrun with agitated teens and geeky elders, the Apple store resembled a Comic-Con panel. Fittingly enough, the “Pilgrim” premiered at this year’s Comic-Con to near deafening praise, much of it warranted.
The Toronto set film, based on a series of graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley, might very well prove to be the breakout hit of the summer for the teen set, who don’t have the patience for the endless exposition that bogs down “Inception.” If you’re seeking an emotionally involving, thought provoking night at the movies look elsewhere. Wright’s incredibly energized film, in which the titular Scott has to defeat his girlfriend’s seven evil exes, plays like a comic-book brought to life, with whiz-bang sound effects, rapid fire editing and ample use of split screen. Much of the film’s appeal lies in the hip cast Wright assembled for his follow up to “Hot Fuzz,” that includes Kieran Culkin as Scott’s gay roommate, and “Parks and Recreation” funny girl Aubrey Plaza.
Wright said it was the challenge of directing such a large scale action picture that appealed to him. “Pilgrim” marks Wright’s first film shout outside of his native UK, and offered him the chance to work with a North American cast, many of whom never dreamed of the opportunity to work with the “Shaun of the Dead” auteur.
“You think, well, he’s English and most of his movies only have English actors or are made over there,” said Schwartzman. “So I never thought I would get to work with this guy who I love and who’s such a great filmmaker. When this opportunity came up it was like an explosion for me. A good explosion.”
While the film isn’t heavy on explosions it does feature a bevy of action scenes. Think “Kill Bill” for a PG-13 audience. Cera’s lean, hunched over frame doesn’t scream action star. Pilgrim is rather the antithesis of a hero. Played by Cera he’s cute and funny in an aw-shucks kind of way which makes him imminently likable, but he’s also kind of a jerk.
“The irony is that Scott himself has painted in mind himself as the hero in his head,” Wright said. “Romona Flowers [Scott’s object of affection] has baggage. But then Scott has baggage too. He’s a bit of hypocrite really. He has exes. He kind of gets his comeuppance in the film really. I liked the idea that our hero is not completely black and white, there are shades of grey.”
“He’s Canadian, say no more,” Cera joked. “He’s a Canadian piece of shit. I was perfect for this part. I’m from Toronto and I’m a piece of shit.”