Scott Pilgrim’s Box Office Let Down : What Does It Mean?
Just about every nerd blog for the last two years has been hyping the arrival of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. It was a loving adaptation of a book that was considered fried gold by just about everybody who had read it and it turned out to be an inventive film that was a lot of fun to watch. Of course the mainstream audience rejected it. Unlike some sites who have been championing the film and claiming that it was going to be a box office slam, I think I always knew better. Perhaps it was when news of the film first started to be thrown around on the internet and the comment sections of film sites were filed to the rim with slams against the book and the “hipster culture” it glorified or other such nonsense. That stigma has followed the film from the earliest days of its development to the moment it hit theaters on Friday. The book and especially the film, has the problem that it fits no particular genre. It’s not a straight up romance, it’s not an action film, it’s not a true comedy, it’s a whirlwind of different ingredients that just happen to mesh well into an amazing final product. The problem here seems to be that everyone wants to apply some sort of label to the film that then somehow angers a contingent of people based on that pigeonholing. There seems to be some debate as to whether you can enjoy this film if you’re anywhere under the age of 25 or over the age of 35. People are jumping to say the film is not relateable but I doubt there are that many people, regardless of their age, who haven’t fallen madly in love and had seemingly world-ending drama ensue. I don’t think that the video gaming references are so aimed at the in-crowd that nobody gets the joke. This movie is, and this is an odd comparison so please don’t hate me, a lot like the movie that took the #1 spot at the box office this week; The Expendables. Can anyone say that film isn’t relateable because we’re not all tatooe’d tough guys with enough firepower to level a small central American nation? No, that would be absurd. There is a universal feeling of connection in basic concepts like young love in the case of Scott Pilgrim, or adrenaline fueled aggression in Expendables. When viewed through this sort of lens, the arguments against Scott Pilgrim fall apart fairly quickly.
There is probably a little bit of Michael Cera backlash. I know diehard SP fans weren’t all too thrilled with him in the initial casting. But he pulled the role off well, branching out a little bit beyond his normal comfort zone to bring the character off the page. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still Michael Cera and it’s not like you forget that fact. But I don’t think that the whole of the nation hates him enough to objectively boycott a movie based off of his involvement. It’s not like he’s Mel Gibson, he didn’t offend us in such a way that we can’t stomach his presense. Cera can’t be blamed for the film not catching on. Really the reason the film failed is because of it’s uniqueness. There isn’t another movie out there like Scott Pilgrim. I’ve checked. Edgar Wright took an amazing book and made an amazing film. The problem is that he made a film that ultimately confused the modern cinematic moviegoer. The world of film has boiled down to giving away everything in the trailer and then paying money to have the gaps filled in. Grown Ups is one of the most successful films of this year, and it was a trite by-the-numbers movie that did nothing to bend the rules or cover new ground. Tired jokes from tired comedians looking to make an easy film for easy money. The amount of care put into Scott Pilgrim is astronomical and you can tell simply by the way that anyone who worked on the film gushes about it even despite it’s failure to catch on with a widespread audience. Nobody will be ashamed of working on that film. You think in a few years Adam Sandler might have some regrets that all it took to earn the top spot at the box office was a scene of him pissing the pool? No, I really doubt he’ll care, but my point remains; modern cinema is a cheap place that has no room for art in the mainstream. Pretty soon it’ll only be the places like the Alamo Drafthouse who even bother to show films that aren’t watered down tripe to be force fed to the masses ad nauseum until they can’t handle it anymore.