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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Though presumably aimed at a teen audience, the action comedy "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" (Universal) is too wildly violent and sexually freewheeling to be endorsed for young or old. This is all the more regrettable since the frenetic proceedings squander some intriguing cultural commentary and the undeniable gift for amusing understatement of star Michael Cera.

Cera plays the title character, an angst-ridden Toronto twentysomething. As the action opens, Scott, an aspiring rock guitarist in a small-time band, is busy demonstrating his emotional immaturity by dating 17-year-old Catholic high school student Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). Though—as the script is at pains to point out— their relationship has yet to reach the first-kiss phase, this is still a morally, and even legally, tenuous situation that raises uncomfortable questions for viewers.

Before anything too untoward can happen, Scott has his head turned by aloof, ubercool Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), literally the girl of his dreams since, as we've seen, he had a vision of her before their first meeting.

To win Ramona's heart, Scott must not only confront the awkward duty of dumping Knives but also battle a succession of Ramona's "evil exes" in bone-crunching, video-game-style combat. His formidable opponents include Bollywood-style brawler Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha), skateboarder-turned-movie-star Lucas Lee (Chris Evans) and Todd Ingram (Brandon Routh), a rival musician whose fighting prowess is powered by his vegan diet.

In adapting Bryan Lee O'Malley's series of graphic novels, director and co-writer (with Michael Bacall) Edgar Wright cleverly contrasts Scott's mundane real-life existence with the hyperbole of his pop culture-inspired imagination. But, though gore-free and caricatured—in a manner reminiscent of the 1960s television series "Batman"—the relentless throwdowns are jarring and ultimately tiresome.

Along with a scene in which Scott and Ramona have a bedroom encounter interrupted by Ramona's last-minute decision to hold off on having sex until some future time of her own choosing, the script also features subplots that portray gay relationships and group sex as a perfectly acceptable "given" of modern life. The most prominent of those subplots concerns the amorous adventures of Scott's roommate Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin).

Thus, Wallace's seduction of a female friend's date—who eventually turns up in his bed along with another man—is treated as a joke.

The film contains pervasive harsh, though bloodless violence, frivolous treatment of aberrant sexuality, brief nongraphic nonmarital sexual activity, a same-sex kiss, several bleeped and one audible use of the F-word and some crude as well as much crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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Fidelis of Sigmaringen: If a poor man needed some clothing, Fidelis would often give the man the clothes right off his back. Complete generosity to others characterized this saint's life. 
<p>Born in 1577, Mark Rey (Fidelis was his religious name) became a lawyer who constantly upheld the causes of the poor and oppressed people. Nicknamed "the poor man's lawyer," Fidelis soon grew disgusted with the corruption and injustice he saw among his colleagues. He left his law career to become a priest, joining his brother George as a member of the Capuchin Order. His wealth was divided between needy seminarians and the poor. </p><p>As a follower of Francis, Fidelis continued his devotion to the weak and needy. During a severe epidemic in a city where he was guardian of a friary, Fidelis cared for and cured many sick soldiers. </p><p>He was appointed head of a group of Capuchins sent to preach against the Calvinists and Zwinglians in Switzerland. Almost certain violence threatened. Those who observed the mission felt that success was more attributable to the prayer of Fidelis during the night than to his sermons and instructions. </p><p>He was accused of opposing the peasants' national aspirations for independence from Austria. While he was preaching at Seewis, to which he had gone against the advice of his friends, a gun was fired at him, but he escaped unharmed. A Protestant offered to shelter Fidelis, but he declined, saying his life was in God's hands. On the road back, he was set upon by a group of armed men and killed. </p><p>He was canonized in 1746. Fifteen years later, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, which was established in 1622, recognized him as its first martyr.</p> American Catholic Blog Obedience means total surrender and wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor. All the difficulties that come in our work are the result of disobedience.

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