Scott Pilgrim vs. The World review by Tom Blain

Watching Scott Pilgrim vs. The World made me realize that I�m a bit out of step with the current generation. For the most part, watching movies don�t make me feel too old, but halfway through Pilgrim I was checking my Depends under garment to make sure it was still functioning under duress. It was at this point that I realized that I�m firmly a part of Generation X and that is no longer the hip generation.

But honestly this realization is coming 5-10 years late. The music on the radio is often no longer to my taste. I can�t and don�t keep up with the latest video games. I do have a smart phone and use it to text, but I was very curmudgeonly about getting it using excuses like, "my phone makes calls, thats all i need." I�m aware of all of this, and yet was living in denial of my lack of hipness I suppose. Then Edgar Wright�s Scott Pilgrim showed up on my door step. A movie born from the comics (or graphic novels and some may call it) with one foot in the super hero domain but without the gimmicky costumes and mutated powers. The other foot is planted firmly in a set of generational trademarks and pop culture references.

And what is the name for this Generation? If you do a Google search for �What is this generation called?� it will point you to Generation Y. I suppose for some that works, but it seems like a cop out to me. Generation Y, sounds like a generation just riding the coattails of Generation X; a generation without the originality to come up with their own moniker that makes them special and unique. I mean come on people... Generation Y? It�s as if the generation before Generation X was a Generation V and so on. Having Generation Y follow Generation X sounds like there was some sort of chromosome issues that occurred in the last forty years. So I had some thoughts:

Generation Xbox: If we are going to build off of the previous generation�s name lets do so with some style and make a true reference here. And this reference is a key component in Scott Pilgrim. For starters, the Universal Pictures opening has been turned into an 8-bit Nintendo-esque graphic. A nice touch that is worth a chuckle. The main theme of the movie is that Scott (Michael Cera) must defeat and destroy the seven ex�s of Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in order to date her. The battles are done in Street Fighter 2 fashion (there I go, making a Generation X video game reference because I have nothing better in my toolbox). Each fight is filled with hyperbolic special effects, character super powers, punches that have subtitles, moves that could have been choreographed by Jet Li, and endings that include coins and a point score. While it�s a lot for this old man to take, the integration of video game mise-en-scene into Scott Pilgrim is probably the best of any film yet. However, when movies like Mortal Kombat and Super Mario Brothers are your predecessors improvement may be assumed and taken for granted.

Generation Data: And by that I mean data delivery with an assumption of rapid speed. The effects that cover the film like a wrapper enhance the data delivery of key points that aren�t necessarily spoken out. As characters are introduced, text boxes appear giving the viewer important characteristics, relationship details, and obscure information (Scott Pilgrim, Age 22, Rating: Awesome). The point of all of this is to cram as much information into the viewer as quickly as possible using as many senses as possible. This method is also used to highlight and emphasize some rather ordinary actions (door bell ringing is accompanied by a visual �Ding Dong�, sound coming from a bass guitar has squiggly lines). This is a throwback to the comic book as much as it is a cleaver movie effect.

Generation Meh: As in not caring a whole lot or at least not acting like you care a whole lot. Ramona is the cool object of Scott�s affection. She is detached and unemotional for the first half to three quarters of the movie. Ramona is also the antithesis of Knives (Ellen Wong) who is the girl Scott is trying to dump so that he can move on to Ramona. Knives is bubbly, excitable, smiley, and... well also a high schooler. But the movie plays up the fact that Ramona is cool, Knives is not. Smaller instances of detachment arise in the movie. For example the passwords Scott uses to get into a club end up being phrases of apathy like, "whatever.." Not only are they passwords, but also an expression of acceptance through apathy. But this idea of not caring, also extends to attitudes about hang-ups held by earlier generations. There is a wider acceptance of differences in sexuality, race, gender, religion, class, etc. This is played out to the extreme as Scott�s roommate Wallace (Kieran MacCulkin) is outgoingly gay. They share a small apartment and also happen to share a bed and for the most part seem to be ok with it. Wallace even sleeps with other guys while Scott is sleeping right next to him. This plays up for uncomfortable laughs with audiences that have even the slightest homophobic tendencies. Another instance of forward thinking acceptence takes place in Scott's band Sex Bob Omb (which sounds like Sex Ba-Bomb). It consists of three pieces, one being a female drummer; breaking the gender wall for a rock/punk band. I realize this isn't completely revolutionary (thinking of bands like Smashing Pumpkins), but its definitely not the norm to have a girl play an instrument and not sing in a punk/rock band unless the whole band is female.

And what of Michael Cera? He plays the title role and sort of a representation of the generation as a whole. I�m still on the fence about Michael Cera. For the past eight years (since Arrested Development) it seems like he is essentially playing the same character but doing it rather enjoyably. The typical Michael Cera is awkwardly tall and skinny, with a voice somewhere between puberty and adulthood, somewhat unsure of his statements and uncomfortable in his own skin. He is very self conscious in difficult situations and always the beta male, prefering the background to the foreground. Since George-Michael Bleuth, down through Paulie Bleeker of Juno, Evan in Superbad and now Scott Pilgrim I haven�t seen much variance in his characters. I�ve never read a Scott Pilgrim comic book (sorry, graphic novel) so I don�t know if his portrayal is accurate but I do have an association with him and this generation. But having said that I'd be curious to see him branch out.

My first impression of the movie was that I liked it, but not a whole lot. But then it stuck with me a little longer than expected. It had me thinking a little more, even if at the core of the movie it really is just a face paced film with ADD and no Ritalin to control its impulses. Its something I could and probably will watch again to catch some of the references that I didn�t see at full speed before. Its enjoyable albeit generational specific humor mixed with action.




7 out of 10 Jackasses
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