Triumph of the geek in an assault on the frontal lobe
If the nastiness of this election is getting you down, perhaps it’s time to take a break. If you want to forget that Mark Latham even exists, it’s probably time to open your brain to the full-frontal lobe sensory assault that is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
It’s hyperreality stretched to the limit, an ADHD teen-nerd rom-com packed with Atari-style graphics, manga and anime. And you’ll either love it or want to chew your own eyes out.
The plot, adapted from a comic book series, is ludicrous: Scott Pilgrim – played by quintessential geek Michael Cera – meets the girl of his dreams, but in order to date her, he must first defeat her seven evil exes in battles that make The Matrix look like Raging Bull.
Director Edgar Wright, who also made Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, obviously has a great handle on popular culture. His films are perfectly crafted for the twitchy attention span of the modern age: short, sharp cuts, no filler, the message boiled down to the essentials and tricked up to fire those neurons like a blipvert.
And it’s all filtered through the pop culture meta-language we’re soaked in, the movie references we understand, the cultural tags of music and TV, the video games we recognise without even ever having played them. It’s the movie equivalent of GirlTalk. You know it without knowing it.
“It’s meant to make life feel like levels of an arcade game,” Wright says of his film. “For Scott, life is governed by the media he sees and the games he plays, and the movie you’re watching is what’s playing inside his own head rather than any semblance of reality.”
Without the underage profanity, it’s not as controversial as Kick-Ass but probably just as divisive. The likes of Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino and geek website Ain’t It Cool are all over Scott Pilgrim like a wet dream.
Others, less so. “What’s disappointing is that this is all so juvenile,” says Kirk Honeycutt from Hollywood Reporter. “Nothing makes any real sense. The ‘duels’ change their rules on a whim, and no one takes the games very seriously, including the exes, who, when defeated, explode into coins the winner may collect.”
I dug Kick-Ass. I thought it was smart and funny and I quite enjoy being offended – but I couldn’t convince my better half and had to watch it on my own. Chances are I’ll have to do the same with Scott Pilgrim.
Is this the future of mass-market entertainment? Is it the cutting edge or a juvenile sledgehammer? Are you going to see it or does the sheer thought fill you with dread? I’m looking forward to find out.
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