On the heels of a relatively weak opening weekend for the R-rated Kick-Ass, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) just gave another upcoming comic book adaptation, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, a PG-13 rating. While this is great news for the marketability of the Edgar Wright-directed young adult hero film, what does it mean for the content of the film?
It is important to look at director Edgar Wright's track record to determine the impact. The man behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz used profanity and violence in heavy doses to exhibit hilarious situations and great satirical stories, but it didn't necessarily run the show. It's hard to imagine an R-rated Scott Pilgrim considering the source material. In the end, a PG-13 rating gives the movie an opportunity to hit the broadest audience possible, and the great chance for success beyond the already hooked fans of the comic.
Plenty of people are quick to call this a response to the poor box office opening of Kick-Ass. It's hard to really pinpoint the epicenter of the decision to make a film starring Michael Cera more accessible to the masses. While Kick-Ass was about a high-school superhero, it was geared for an adult crowd. Scott Pilgrim looks to be oriented for an audience closer to the titular character's age, ranging from teenagers to those in their mid-20s.
Of course, the goal of every film is to market itself for the biggest demographic possible, but when the trailer showed a highly stylized movie with "high school" drama galore, the audience was clear. An R-rating would simply be foolish. A PG rating would be unreasonable. The "BAM-POW-THWAP" satire on campy comic book entertainment lends itself well to the middle-ground, keeping the action unique and universally enjoyable.
Edgar Wright is one of the most sly and clever filmmakers out there today. His visions are influenced by everything he sees and gives the audience a chance to interact with every scene, at least in his most recognizable parody films. Instead of falling into a trap of simply making tip-of-the-cap jokes, he creates fully structured stories with original characters experiencing all-too-familiar events.
The trailers for Scott Pilgrim show the filmmaker may be taking a similar approach, but with a bigger box of tools. Stepping away from his regulars (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost), Wright is getting opportunities to solidify himself as one of the most promising directors in Hollywood. Scott Pilgrim may not be for everybody, but snagging a PG-13 rating proves it can appeal to the masses, while still maintaining a level of maturity needed to tell the story. The rating was earned for "stylized violence, sexual content, language and drug reference."
The film is clearly constructed by people who love comic books, but also have a sense of humor about them. More importantly, they are creative and unique individuals, expressing their story through video game sound effects and comic book visuals. If Michael Cera ever had a platform to be believable in beating somebody to the ground, this is it.
Does the PG-13 rating scare you off the film a bit? Or does the increased accessibility prove it may have mass appeal?
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World hits theaters August 13, 2010.