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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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Benedict Joseph Labre: Benedict Joseph Labre was truly eccentric, one of God's special little ones. Born in France and the eldest of 18 children, he studied under his uncle, a parish priest. Because of poor health and a lack of suitable academic preparation he was unsuccessful in his attempts to enter the religious life. Then, at 16 years of age, a profound change took place. Benedict lost his desire to study and gave up all thoughts of the priesthood, much to the consternation of his relatives. 
<p>He became a pilgrim, traveling from one great shrine to another, living off alms. He wore the rags of a beggar and shared his food with the poor. Filled with the love of God and neighbor, Benedict had special devotion to the Blessed Mother and to the Blessed Sacrament. In Rome, where he lived in the Colosseum for a time, he was called "the poor man of the Forty Hours Devotion" and "the beggar of Rome." The people accepted his ragged appearance better than he did. His excuse to himself was that "our comfort is not in this world." </p><p>On the last day of his life, April 16, 1783, Benedict Joseph dragged himself to a church in Rome and prayed there for two hours before he collapsed, dying peacefully in a nearby house. Immediately after his death the people proclaimed him a saint. </p><p>He was officially proclaimed a saint by Pope Leo XIII at canonization ceremonies in 1883.</p> American Catholic Blog Today offers limitless possibilities for holiness. Lean into His grace. The only thing keeping us from sainthood is ourselves.

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