Usually when a film is described as being like a video game it's an insult. Here it's a compliment. In bringing Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novels to the screen, 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz' director Edgar Wright has made a movie that's frenetic, funny, sweet and very, very over the top. You won't see anything like it this year (or maybe any other).
Our hero, Scott Pilgrim (Cera), is the 22-year-old layabout bassist for the Toronto band Sex Bob-omb and a guy who's hit plenty of bum notes when it comes to romance. He sees the woman of his dreams, Ramona Flowers (Winstead), at a party and two excruciating conversations later manages to convince her to go on a date with him.
Despite Scott being completely neurotic and Ramona being cooler than Toronto in December, there's a spark between them. But before the flames of love can go out of control Scott has to defeat - as in fight and defeat - her Seven Evil Exes, led by music mogul Gideon Graves (Schwartzman). Can a snorkel jacket-wearing weakling unleash the giant within or will he just go back to his apartment, eat garlic bread all night and leave Ramona to find yet another Mr Wrong?
There's a moment in 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' where one of the characters says, "You can't say I don't know how to put on a show." It's a line that will sum up many people's feelings towards Wright after watching what he's done here. Clever but never elitist, this story of misfit love has comedy, martial arts, cool music, hyper-stylised visuals, bonkers set-pieces and enough nods to other movies to keep even the fussiest fanboy looking all around the screen.
While Wright's other films have also involved guys who just can't get it right when it comes to girls, this one has more for female punters in terms of characters and awwww moments - even though Cera is less loveable and more slappable than we've seen him previously. He's backed by a charming gang, many of whom you probably haven't encountered before but will be seeing plenty more of in years to come. Everyone gets a cool line (or three) and however far they go in the future they'll look on this movie as a diamond on their CV.
For some viewers the zaniness will grate, the throw-downs will become repetitive and the ending will be a bit of anti-climax, but others will pine for a sequel as much as Scott does for a phone call from Ramona. And whether it's love or frustration, sticking the DVD and those graphic novels down on the Christmas list could save you a lot of time shopping for someone in December.