It is according to MaryAnn Johanson, who writes:
It’s male adolescent sexual angst as “an epic of epic epicness,” as the poster tagline informs us… and as the movie matches in attitude and action. It’s the indulgence of everything a not-quite-adult, no-longer-a-kid manchild could want from women, in a package designed to appeal to not-quite-adult, no-longer-a-kid manchildren who would happily see their lives in the metaphors of the comic books, sitcoms, and videogames they were weaned on.
So far, it’s pretty much par for the idiotic course for idiotic romantic comedies: we hardly know nor like either of the would-be couple, but we’re stuck with them for at least another hour. But here’s the appalling twist: In order for Scott to continue dating Ramona, he has to fight — literally battle, videogame style — her “seven evil exes.” Ramona makes a comment about how we all have “baggage,” which is of course true. But these exes are not “baggage”: the first one is a boy she hung out with and kissed once in eighth grade. The others are mostly similarly benign past relationships that barely even rise to the level of “relationship.” (Of course, Scott’s idea of a “dating” is hanging out with a 17-year-old high-schooler [Ellen Wong] and grabbing a slice of pizza after school. Kissing is not even on the agenda.) What’s worse, the entire “battle of the exes” thing has been arranged by Ramona’s most recent boyfriend (Jason Schwartzmann: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Funny People), who really does seem evil. But why on Earth would the other exes go along with such a scheme unless they feel some kind of ownership of Ramona?
I know, I know: It’s all supposed to be “funny” and “cute” and “lighthearted.” But for as long as “women as trophies, as prizes for men who do heroic deeds” has been an unfortunate trope of Hollywood, a movie has never been this blatant, this outrageous, this nonchalant about it. And while there’s lots that is indeed funny and cute and lighthearted — the always delightful Chris Evans’ (The Losers, Push) action movie star, one of Ramona’s exes, is a definite highlight — there is no sense of satire in the unmetaphoric winning of Ramona. All the style is nothing but a would-be “sweet” metaphor for men treating women as property… and woman acquiescing to being treated that way.
I haven’t seen the movie yet — I plan to see it Friday — so I can’t say whether Johanson’s criticisms hold any water or not. But I wonder: is Edgar Wright’s latest really a misogynistic work, or is it more proof of a generational gap that some claim the film has brought into stark relief?
Based on what I know of the film’s storyline (based on having just finished the comic book) as well as of Wright’s history as a filmmaker, I’m inclined to vote against the former. But I’m not ready to vote for the latter, yet.