|Posted on December 21, 2011 at 2:25 AM|
Scott Pilgrim Speaks and an Entire Generation
Good day, my fellow nerds and geeks. My brothers and sisters of videogame enthusiasts and comic book collectors. Japanese animation watchers and retro videogame lovers. The kin of everything dorky and silly. Believe it or not, you're now cool. Oh, it's true. All those superhero movies and tv shows about men in tights, giant fighting robots, hordes of zombies and awkward guys trying to ask out cute girls with references to the philosophical principles of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings are the norm these days. There's one movie, though, that is just a notch above the rest. While many use those elements to, for lack of a better turn of phrase, sell our childhoods back to us, one is the grandmaster of them all - the "dungeon keeper," if you will. It doesn't just try to be hip and cool and water down our nostalgic tendencies to buy. It celebrates it. It loves it. It makes no compromises in the fact it is goofy and nerdy. It was made by people like us, for people like us.
It came with a fury. It was marketed to no end. Yet, it only did somewhat well. As Edgar Wright recently explained a screening here in Los Angeles, it was almost "too much" for its own good. It was a blend of many ideas and genres. This confused, if not frightened, the general masses. It also confused critics.
For all the kids that read comics, manga and watched anime that have grown up without being heralded! Now all that stuff is cool.
Critics be damned. Though the critics might have been kind to Scott Pilgrim versus the World, they certainly weren't unanimous and, in most cases missed the point entirely even if the review was good.
"To win her, he needs to duel her ex-boyfriends in fantasy sequences based on video games. Oh, great." says one.
"This is a discouragingly limp movie where nothing is at stake." says another.
Some jackass in New York wrote "I tried to love it. But after 20 minutes, I sensed I was intruding on the movie's love affair with itself."
Those that write a bad review seem to dwell on one aspect: they just don't get it.
That sounds pretentious, I know. But think back to your parents. Were there things that they just "didn't get?" I'm willing to bet there are, from films you liked to the music you listened to. There might be flaws, and don't get me wrong Edgar Wright's love letter to geek culture based on the popular comic series certainly has flaws, but if there's anything it did right was this: it speaks to a generation of young people and, more specifically, one sub-culture of peoples.
The film is highly stylized to appeal to a select demographic, and that's why that select demographic loves it so much and why it might be over the heads of those that aren't part of that niche.
The 2010 action/musical/comedy/awesome movie from director Edgar Wright, based on the comic book series, didn't do so hot in the theaters either. It wasn't the film's fault, that's for sure. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is one of those late-comer of a movies - the kind of movie you find out a little later on DVD and word-of-mouth. That's also not new to director Edgar Wright who's Shaun of the Dead flourished in popularity by that approach as well. I remember randomly finding a used DVD of it back in the early oughts and soon introduced at least eight or nine people to it. "Sit down, you need to watch this," I would say. I know they continued that pay-it-forward idelogoy and introduced their own groups of people to it. Soon, the briliance of it became clear. So much so it's now regarded as one of the best comedies, and probably the best horror-comedy, ever made
That goes for Scott Pilgrim versus the World as well, though its audience is probably much, much more narrow. It's audience are those of my generation. The late 20s to early 30s crowd that doesn't have a defining film of its own generation. There's certainly commentary on our generation from the movies and television, but nothing that actually "speaks" the language.
Videogames and comic books are popular. Those that say otherwise are likely living under a rock. They weren't always as popular as they are now. Gamers have been around since the late 1970s, popping quarters in arcade machines, and comic book fans didn't start to be looked down on until the world of film started to create amazing movies based on them, such as The Dark Knight.
Scott Pilgrim versus the world is an unapoligic summation of everything geek. What's more is it doesn't attempt to dilute it to be easily consumed by the masses and, more specifically, critics. It loves its roots. It loves everything "nerdy" and "goofy" and occasional "obnoxious" or "rediulous." There wasn't some writer's meeting trying to figure out how an adaptation of the comic should somehow ground itself in reality and make some coming-of-age story we've seen a dozen times. It had an idea, ran with it, and ended up with a film that speaks to specific people that get it.
Those people get the references, the hidden easter eggs, the music cues and the T-shirts. those people, I suppose, are like me.
Awkwardness to the nerd world is the rule.
I find it interesting that, as a fan of film, those of my generation can look back to past great movies and see where they come from. In a way, we learn to respect them. As out-of-date as acting and directing styles might be by today's standards, they were the bees-knees when they were originally made. Carry that over to the "counterculture" films of the 60s and 70s through the "brat packs" of 1980s teen angst. We understand that. Those films spoke to a certain type of people of a certain era. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is in that same vein, only flipped. It speaks to a certain type of people of a certain era: those that played video games and read comic books in the 1980s and 1990s. Those that, for years, were beaten up at school or made fun of, perhaps having to keep their stash of comics and role playing garb in the closet. Those that would slink away to their rooms, put in a cassette and get lost in their Nintendo games or the pages of X-Men. These are the people that can get a Ghost Buster's reference, hum the Mario Bros or ET themes and name all the members of The Goonies.
That generation has transitioned to the world of the internet. Like everything on the internet, they hang out in their niche groups and their select websites. Still, though, there wasn't exactly a "voice" to them - at least not put out so prominently into one single, broad-reaching scream.
Perhaps it's blasphemy to say this, but Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is the same type of film as other "generation" films. Movies like The Breakfast Club, Easy Rider, American Grafitti, Saturday Night Fever, Singles and Clerks. My generation doesn't have a lot to put on a pedestal when it comes to film. It's a lot more than just the videogame, comic book and movie references in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, it's the sense that it's made for those that, really, were never that outspoken in the first place.
Bryan Lee O'Malley (right) is the man behind the source material and Edgar Wright (left) is the man behind the film - both "getting" and "understanding" a particular group of people better than most.
This isn't just a rant about how great the movie is, or the comic series for that matter. I suppose this is more of a "thank you" to all those involved. Those that "get it" and loved creating it as much as the generation it speaks to loves watching it. That generation will continue to love it.