This is the week that I faced up to the fact that I am no longer one of the young people. I had an indication this was coming last year when my Young Person’s Railcard expired (prompting an overenthusiastic First Great Western ticket inspector to quite literally cut it up before my eyes..) I had been clinging to the hope that, seeing as I can’t actually afford the full adult fares yet, maybe I can still technically qualify as being part of The Youth. However, watching Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World – Edgar Wright’s frenetic comic book adaptation starring such precocious hipsters as Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Kieran Culkin – made me finally realise that no, I’m definitely not one of those people am I. The fun bit is officially now over and I’m just going to have to resign myself to a life revolving around nasal hair, offset tracker mortgages and, ultimately, death.
Scott Pilgrim is an easygoing 22-year-old slacker sharing a room in Toronto with his gay best friend Wallace. He plays bass in an awesome garage band called Sex Bob-omb, doesn’t have a job (or seem to need one) and spends his evenings hanging out at cool parties full of attractive people who all know each other. It’s a life that probably won’t resemble your early 20’s – in the same way that Skins didn’t really resemble your school days and Hugh Hefner’s life isn’t going to resemble your 70’s. One night Scott meets Ramona Flowers, the ultra-hip purple haired girl of his dreams, and falls madly in love with her. There is one little problem however; before Scott and Ramona can get it together, he must first defeat her seven evil exes in mortal combat.
Fortunately for all concerned, this is mortal combat of the Nintendo DS variety so no one really seems to get hurt. Punches to face are accompanied by words like ‘KAPOW!’ emblazoned on screen in giant orange letters and when you kill your enemy, he explodes into a thousand golden coins as opposed to, say, leaving behind a rotting dismembered corpse to be guiltily buried beneath Ramona’s patio.
The first evil ex Scott must defeat is Matthew Patel, an Indian emo type who interrupts one of Sex Bob-omb’s gigs by exploding through the roof of the venue and kicking a bewildered Scott in the head before apologising with “sorry, didn’t you get my email explaining the situation?” Next up is Lucas Lee a skateboarding film star who drafts in his 20 stunt doubles to join the fight. Then comes a vegan bassist with telekinetic powers, an angry lesbian from Ramona’s “sexy phase”, a pair of twin-brother superstar DJs and lastly the ‘Final Boss’ in the form of Jason Schwartzman’s slimy record producer. This gives the film a multi-level structure that will be familiar to anyone who’s ever played a Sonic the Hedgehog-style platform game (although I don’t remember playing any videogames where you got to have sex with a girl once you’d completed it – there certainly weren’t any on the Megadrive anyway..) In fact, Scott Pilgrim is suffused with gaming references from the ‘Pee Bar’ that pops up on screen when Scott goes to the bathroom to the brilliant Capcom-esque takeover of the Universal Studios intro.
The fun bit is officially now over and I’m just going to have to resign myself to a life revolving around nasal hair, offset tracker mortgages and, ultimately, death.
The pace of the film is breathtaking; one scene explodes into the next with Edgar Wright and his editor employing split-screens, Manga-style captions and superfast crosscutting to propel the story forwards. It’s exhilarating to watch but older befuddled moviegoers (i.e. me) may potentially get left behind. This is essentially a film designed for the hyperactive mind of a 17-year-old - whose attention can flit effortlessly between the 25 web pages he has open at any one time, the illegally downloaded movie he’s watching on his laptop and the General Studies homework he’s got due in tomorrow. And all this while simultaneously Skyping his girlfriend, filling in a UCAS form and performing freaky sex acts on ChatRoulette.
We oldies can still enjoy the film; we can appreciate Edgar Wright’s astonishingly inventive visual style, Kieran Culkin’s hilarious scene-stealing one-liners and the excellent soundtrack featuring tracks by Beck, Dan the Automator and Cornelius. However, there’s an inescapable feeling that it’s not really meant for us and we probably shouldn’t be here. A newer, better generation has taken over – it was born in the 90’s and has no memory of John Major. All we can do is look sadly on, like a non-GPS-enabled iPhone, muttering resentfully to ourselves about Brit Pop, Oasis at Knebworth, Melinda Messenger and The X Files. It’s a bit like that scene in Greenberg, if you’ve seen it, where Ben Stiller stumbles into a house party full of his niece’s teenage friends who feed him cocaine and then take the piss out of him. Alternatively, take that feeling you get when you hear about someone under the age of 23 who’s had a novel published, then multiply it by a billion.
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