Edgar Wright sets out to prove he can do good work without Pegg and Frost. He and cowriter Michael Bacall adapt a video-game-obsessed comic book for the big screen, so many mediums combine – noisily and awkwardly according to Katy, or with a powerful awesomeness if you ask me.

Somehow the Michael Cera thing hasn’t worn off on me yet. Good to see Kieran Culkin as his sarcastic gay roommate, Anna Kendrick of Up In The Air as his sister, and Brandon Routh of Superman Returns as a baddie who gains his powers from eating vegan. Jason Schwartzman as a corporate supervillain was an interesting choice. Had no idea that the main hair-dyed love interest (Mary Winstead) was in Death Proof, that Cera’s band’s drummer played Milk’s campaign manager, that the action-movie-star ex-boyfriend was Human Torch from Fantastic Four, or that Thomas “Dreamcatcher/The Punisher” Jane was a vegan policeman.

EDIT: Watched again in 2013, though it took me a couple tries to get past the beginning and title sequence, which I felt compelled to watch again and again.

EDIT 2016: I have seen this movie lots. It it the best movie.

“Men like you are my specialty. You know, men of violence.”

Ruffalo, Leo and Norm in front of a crazy fake sky:

I don’t usually try to outthink a movie, to suppose what will happen next, but when I know in advance that it’s a twist-ending movie I’ve got no choice. What’s the twist ending? Will hallucinogenic drugs be involved? Who here is actually evil? Did the missing patient never exist? And if not, what is Leo supposed to be investigating? And so on, but it turned out to be the twist I’d guessed from the trailer, that Leo was mad all along. Seems his wife Michelle “Wendy & Lucy” Williams killed their kids, so he killed her and got committed, and now he wanders the asylum/island with a plastic gun pretending to solve crimes. Lead doctor Ben “Death and the Maiden” Kingsley assigns Leo’s own doctor Mark “Zodiac” Ruffalo as Leo’s “partner” and sets Leo loose for a couple days to run his “investigation” and see if he figures out the truth about himself.

Leo with dead wife:

Leo with imaginary friend:

Opens with Leo puking on a boat, then being greeted on the island by Norm from Fargo, which is distracting. Kingsley sets our detectives looking for a girl whose name is an anagram for Leo’s dead wife’s name – alternately played by Emily “Young Adam” Mortimer and Patricia “Station Agent” Clarkson (I liked the Clarkson version better – all suspicious survivalist in a cave). Things get more impossible and surreal from then on. Leo has some psychologically obvious dreams, Scorsese reverses the film (cigarette smoke, not as awesome as the snow in Bringing Out The Dead), and Jackie Earle “Little Children” Haley tells Leo “You’re not investigating anything. You’re a fucking rat in a maze.” It’s totally clear about halfway through the movie, and increasingly afterwards that something is happening which is not happening. At this point, if it was a crappy movie I’d be impatiently waiting out the twist ending so I could go home, but this stayed fun to watch through all the ludicrous turns.

Clarkson on fire:

Starts to remind me of The Game. More star power: Max “holy cow, The Seventh Seal was over 50 years ago” von Sydow as a doctor, Ted “lotion in the basket” Levine as a tough-looking warden and Elias “Thin Red Line” Koteas as a figment of Leo’s imagination. Not a lot of women in your movies, eh Marty?

Von Sydow in danger:

I hardly ever watch movies with headphones, just assumed they’d sound pretty professional, but this one had some clumsy-ass dialogue editing. Fine music, though. Written by Steve’s old Avatar buddy, who’s not as smart a writer as Steve probably would’ve been, and by Dennis “Gone Baby Gone” Lehane. Shot by Robert Richardson, who worked with Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino and shot two of Marty’s more outlandish looking features, The Aviator and Bringing Out The Dead. I like this guy.

Kingsley patiently explains the twist ending to us:

Leo can’t believe this shit:

Story by the HJNTIY team, screenplay by the creator of some show called Army Wives and directed by the dude behind The Other Sister, so there was no guarantee of quality here, but the movie safely occupies the competent, innocuous middle ground between piece-o-shit HJNTIY and surprisingly-good Love Actually. Light and predictably happy, with a cameo from Kristen Schaal of Flight of the Conchords which I enjoyed far too much compared to its surrounding scenes.

So. Ashton Kutcher (Butterfly Effect) runs a flower shop with happily married George Lopez (Sharkboy & Lavagirl). Ashton proposes to career girl Jessica Alba (Love Guru) instead of longtime friend Jennifer Garner (Invention of Lying), who has fallen for a married guy (AK & JG end up together). Jamie Foxx (Miami Vice) is a sportscaster whose boss Kathy Bates (The Waterboy) assigns him to cover valentine’s day, during which he meets Jessica Biel (Elizabethtown) who throws an anti-val-day party every year because she is lonely. Shirley MacLaine (Artists & Models) tells 50-year husband Hector Elizondo (Georgia Rule) that she cheated on him decades ago, but he forgives her at a park screening of Hot Spell (a movie with Shirley and Anthony Quinn which nobody remembers). Patrick Dempsey (McThingy on Katy’s shows) is in the movie but I already can’t remember why. Topher Grace (Spiderman 3) likes Anne Hathaway (Becoming Jane), finds out she works as a kinky phone sex operator but learns to deal with that. Eric Dane (McThingy on Katy’s shows) is a sports star who is gay, managed by Queen Latifah (Stranger Than Fiction) who I think works with Jessica Biel and is Anne Hathaway’s boss and there are other connections that aren’t important. Lastly, Julia Roberts (Duplicity) is on a plane flying home on military leave to see her son for a day, sitting next to Bradley Cooper (Midnight Meat Train) who is gay for Eric Dane. Then there are some 18-year-olds whom we can safely ignore, including a pop idol or two.