At first, director Edgar Wright creates a meta-clever universe in which Scott's infatuation with Ramona and the first couple of evil-ex showdowns are hilarious and well-executed. Scott doesn't quite understand what's going on at first, but he knows he's into Ramona, and if this is what he has to do, he's sorta-kinda willing. But as the Mortal Kombat-style battles continue and escalate, viewers begins to wonder -- along with Scott -- why this girl whom he doesn't exactly have sizzling chemistry with is making him risk his life six times to have a happy ending. While he's head over heels for her, she calls him "the nicest guy" she's ever gone out with -- faint praise when her former significant others include arrogant and conceited types like a handsome action star (Chris Evans), a super-vegan bassist (Brandon Routh), and the evil exes' leader, Gideon, a jerky music producer played by Jason Schwartzman. There's one girl too -- the "bi-curious" and "bi-furious" Roxy Richter (a heavily made-up Mae Whitman, who long ago played Cera's girlfriend Ann on Arrested Development).
By the time Scott plows through all of the exes to reach Gideon, the novelty hasn't exactly worn off, but it no longer provides the jolt of excitement that energized the first half of the action. Cera, that ubiquitous Everyman who looks more boy than man, plays Scott as so spineless that it's hard to believe he can harness any of the power points necessary to defeat some of the exes. In fact, the most interesting character is Wallace. With his dark dye job making him look like a younger Tobey Maguire, Culkin is positively show-stopping, chewing up the scenery with his pithy advice and super-ability to phone Scott's put-together younger sister, Stacey (Anna Kendrick), whenever Scott's acting like an idiot (which is to say, most of the time). Culkin shines so brightly that it's too bad graphic novelist Bryan Lee O'Malley didn't write a Wallace-centric spin-off that could be adapted into a sequel.