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Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010)

15 Aug

I’m not going to pretend that Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a perfect film, it definitely lacks some character development and it’s not exactly a deep film. The reason I feel like writing about it is what it represents as a film and who the film is for. Strictly speaking, the film is for me. And when I say me, I mean me in a demographic sense. I like comic books, indie music, twenty year old video games, Toronto and movies with bright colors.  Which is pretty much all of what Scott Pilgrim is.

One of the first sounds in the movie is the opening song from Zelda: A Link to the Past which was release in 1992. I was four years old. I played this game a lot (both as a child and as late as a couple months ago), but I don’t expect everyone else to have been in the same boat. Many of the elements of this film are esoteric references that I get, but would not have the gaul to expect other people to.

From what I know about the way the film industry works, and especially mainstream film industry, the main objective is to appeal to the most people as possible. Making films that are easily accessible and broad seems to be the norm for summer movie fare. I take buses around town with “Scott Pilgrim” written on the side, the trailer playing on giant screens in the middle of town. Granted, I live in the city where the film takes place and was shot, but I would imagine (and have heard) this is a typical treatment for the films campaign. Someone has put a lot of eggs into the Scott Pilgrim basket. It is not being marketed as being an art house film tailored for folks like me, but rather as a summer blockbuster, an epic of epic epicness.

It feels weird to me that the prototypical executive didn’t look at this film at some point during production and say “what the fuck is this?.” I think that I would even say something like “You think so, really?” and that is why the film will not do well. It’s incredible summer fun, really funny and moves at a breakneck pace, making it one of the best movies that I saw this summer, but I don’t know who else would think so (other than those who live lives that mirror mine).

What I have read about the film on the internet is a lot of backlash against Michael Cera in the lead role.  I feel this may also be a generational gap, Michael Cera represents a change in traditional masculinity and sexuality. The nerd is never the object of the female lust, he is not dangerous or athletic, he’s the nice guy that that finishes last; he’s ducky. Michael Cera as the leading man upsets the establishment: the women chase after him, the loser that the girls want and he gets the girl.

Take a look a the films that Scott Pilgrim is up against this weekend at the box office; one is The Expendables, the farcically testosterone filled action film full of so many A-List actors that the governor of California doesn’t make it onto the poster. The other is Eat Pray Love, which is pretty much the polar opposite.  Both of these films have a broad demographic to serve: The Expendables for manly men and Eat Pray Love for womanly women (which is to say, 30-60 year old mothers). Which gets to the dilemma, who is Scott Pilgrim for? Indie Music and Video game Nerds in the mood for a romantic comedy and eye popping visuals. What Scott Pilgrim represents is filmmaking for a small group: people are already saying that it will be a cult film. I’m not sure how it couldn’t be.

To me, the interesting aspect of cult films are the fact that they are not made to be cult films, they are merely found after the fact. What Scott Pilgrim is is knowingly making the film for a small crowd that will love it. It is similar to the model of exploitation films of the 70’s, made for very specific segments of the population. Most famously of which would be Blacksploitation films made for inner city black teens. These were not widely distributed and they were made for cheap so they would recoup the costs in a small market. Having such a theatrical release for Scott Pilgrim would be an interesting tactic, and a digital distribution model could account for some of the smaller markets that an initial run would not be included in the initial run.

All in all, I really enjoyed Scott Pilgrim. I would really like to meet someone else who liked it as much as I did, I feel that we would have a lot in common.