Making the Grades
Michael Cera seems to have found a niche for himself playing wimpy, teenaged doofuses in films like Juno, Year One, Extreme Movie and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. His latest character, Scott Pilgrim, doesn’t stray far from this stereotypical role.
Scott, a jobless, 22-year-old bass guitar player, shares an air mattress in a tiny apartment with his gay roommate and anyone else Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin) brings home to cuddle with under the covers. Scott’s own romantic life is littered with broken relationships including one with his fellow band member Kim Pine (Alison Pill) and popular singer Envy Adams (Brie Larson). After his painful breakup with Envy, Scott resorts to dating a high school student from a Catholic academy as a way to restore his confidence in his own desirability. However, Knives Chau’s (Ellen Wong) ethnicity, religious affiliation and youth fuel recurrent jokes among the film’s older characters.
Then Scott lays eyes on the pink-haired Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Windstead) at a party. (In a surreal scenario, the mysterious woman skates through his dreams before he even meets her.) Too spineless to break up with Knives, Scott waffles between both girls until they uncover his deceit. That’s when Scott encounters the full fury of scorned love. But Knives isn’t the only one looking for a little revenge. Scott discovers that Ramona has seven former beaus whom he must fight before he can date her.
Set up like the levels of a video game, each encounter with an evil, super powered ex involves finding the chink that allows Scott to defeat him (or her, in the case of Ramona’s lesbian lover). A win results in points being tallied on the screen and a jackpot of coins raining from thin air. Bending the rules of reality further, the film’s stylized depictions of violence include scenes of characters thrown through walls, stabbed with light sabers and tossed around a room. Luckily these combatants can also catch a second life, which allows the battles to linger on longer. Complete with descriptive graphics like “pow” and “thonk,” viewers get some visual stimulation to help them stay involved in this senseless, wandering plot.
Unfortunately, scriptwriters pad this story with ongoing homosexual jokes, crude terms for male anatomy, profanities and plenty of vulgar sexual innuendo. Scott’s biggest worries seem to be his lack of sexual activity and his need to frequent the bathroom. But parents may also be concerned with the young adult’s lack of responsibility. Consumed with his lust for Ramona, he lets down his band members, disregards Knives’ feelings and wallows in bouts of self-pity that he must be coddled and coaxed through. Every girl deserves better than that.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
Does Scott have qualities that make him an attractive boyfriend? Are these attributes that would contribute to a long and successful relationship? Who is the more mature character in this story, Knives or Scott?
What kind of relationship does Scott have with his younger sister (Anna Kendrick)? How does their bond help Scott?