Why 20% of the Nation's Critics Hate 'Scott Pilgrim'

It's not about the movie--it's about the movie's audience

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With a soaring 80% Rotten Tomatoes rating, many of nation's critics really like Scott Pilgrim vs. the Word. But what about the other 20%? This week, NPR's Linda Holmes dissected reviews from the film's harshest critics and discovered something interesting: negative critics don't hate the film per se, they hate its target audience. Scott Pilgrim, you see, is a tale in which Michael Cera must defeat his love interest's seven evil ex-boyfriends. It's loaded with geeky gamer jokes and comic fanboy humor. Is it right for critics to denounce a film based on the audience it caters to? Holmes most definitely thinks not. Here are the film's naysayers followed by Holmes's deft takedown:

  • This Movie Sucks, Deal With it Geeks, writes Steve Persall at the St. Petersburg Times: "I'm not a video gamer. I have discovered more appealing ways to not have a life... and I'm certain that not loving Scott Pilgrim vs. the World will bring out the geeks who wish they attended Comic-Con, ready to flame that a young gamer should have reviewed it."

  • How Can Moviegoers Actually Like Michael Cera? asks Peter Keough at The Boston Phoenix: "[Cera's] Scott Pilgrim is so pale, so enervated, so solipsistic, I'd swear I could see right through him. Add in the faux hip, self-congratulatory, dork-pandering assault of the first half-hour or so...not to mention the non-stop Pavlovian laugh track provided by the audience at the screening I attended — and you have a candidate for most irritating performance of the year."

  • The Film Is Catered to Morons, writes Sara Vilkomerson at the New York Observer: "How can a movie so clearly directed at an audience with generational ADD drag on so?" Sean Burns at the Philadelphia Weekly agrees. He says the film is "an insular, punishingly alienating experience preaching only to the faithful, devoted hearts of arrested 12-year-old boys. It’s singularly fixated on video games and shallow visions of women as one-dimensional objects to be either obtained or discarded and offers no possible point of entry to anybody over the age of 30."

  • You Critics Are Absurd, counters Linda Holmes, denouncing the naysayers:

Hating Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is perfectly fine. It's got a style; you sort of embrace it and dig it or you don't. But when there's too much effort given to tut-tutting the people you imagine to be enjoying it, or declaring and promising that only narrow categories of losers and non-life-havers and other stupid annoying hipsters could possibly be having a good time when you're not, it sounds pinched and ungenerous. And, not to put too fine a point on it, a little bit jealous and fearful of obsolescence.

Here's what I'm saying: I'm a woman, I'm in my late thirties, I can't handle first-person shooters, I'm afraid of Comic-Con, and I really, really liked Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

I hope I'm not, you know, blowing your mind.

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