Australian Council on Children and the Media

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

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Not recommended under 13, PG to 15 (Themes, Violence, Sexual references, Coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
  • a review of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 12 August 2010.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to adult themes, violence, sexual content, and coarse language
Children aged 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to adult themes, violence, sexual content, and coarse language

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Action violence, sexual references and coarse language
Length 112 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Scott Pilgrim is a shaggy-haired and rather nerdy 22 year-old who is in between jobs and plays bass guitar for a Toronto neo-punk band called “Sex Bob-Omb”. Other band members include drummer Kim Pine (Alison Pill) and guitarist Steven Stills (Mark Webber). Scott’s best friend and room mate Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin) is gay and Scott is dating a seventeen-year-old high school girl named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). Scott’s life is disrupted when he meets a roller-blading, magenta-haired girl named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

Scott starts dating Ramona, but the situation becomes dangerous when Scott receives an email from one of her ex boyfriends challenging Scott to a duel to the death. It turns out that Ramona has seven exes, “The League of the Seven Evil Exes”, who all have superpowers of some type. In order for Scott to have a relationship with Ramona he must defeat them all in mortal combat.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Relationships, jealously and revenge, superheroes

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Scott Pilgrim contains frequent stylised, comic book/videogame violence with no blood and gore depicted. Some of this violence may be imitated by children. Examples include:

  • Scott is attacked by Ramona’s evil ex number one. The fight includes numerous stylised kicks and punches to the face, head and chest. Scott hurls a drum cymbal at his attacker, nearly decapitating him. Scott punches his attacker in the head causing his attacker to explode. During the fight Scott is attacked by a number of floating ghost-like young women who fire flames from their eyes.
  • Scott watches a video of a man holding a gun, threatening to shoot people and holding a gun to a woman’s head.
  • While being attacked by Ramona’s second evil ex, Scott is thrown hundreds of metres through the air, crashing into a building and falling through scaffolding to the ground; Scott is uninjured. He is punched and kicked numerous times in the chest and face and bashed over the head with a skateboard.
  • A man punches a teenage girl in the face knocking her to the ground. The man says that he was not afraid to punch a girl because he is a rock star.
  • Scott slaps a band member in the face several times.
  • One of Ramona’s evil exes is a young woman who attacks Scott with a bladed belt. Ramona attacks the woman with a large sledge hammer and the two women punch and kick each other. When Scott refuses to hit her ex, Ramona takes control of Scott’s hands, forcing him to hit the other woman. She knocks Scott to the ground and is about to stomp on his head when Scott touches her on the back of the knee, causing her to have an orgasm which results in her exploding in a shower of coins.
  • Giant ice-breathing dragons blow Scott and his fellow band members off of their feet with their icy breath. Scott generates his own musical monster - a giant gorilla which attacks the dragons.
  • During his fight with Ramona’s last evil ex, we see Scott pull a flaming sword from his chest and use the sword to attack a number of men. Scott slices the men with the sword with each man exploding in a shower of coins. Scott wraps his legs around the evil ex’s neck and flips him over his shoulder. Scott is speared through the chest with a sword, collapsing and dying. Scott finds himself in the after life, but is given back his life when he pushes a second chance button.
  • Knives turns up, wielding two swords and attacks Ramona in revenge for Ramona stealing Scott from her.  She kicks Ramona in the head. Scott intervenes and stops the two women fighting.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of eight, including the following:

  • Images of several women floating in the air. The women look like ghosts with mouths full of large sharp fangs and scary-looking eyes that shoot flames.
  • One of Ramona’s evil exes has white glowing eyes.
  • One scene contains images of ghost-like dragons that breathe ice on their victims. The dragons are battled by a giant ghost-like gorilla.   

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the violent and disturbing images described above.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Most children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by the images described above.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Some clothing, cell phones, computers, Coke, Pac Man and other video games are mentioned.
  • Associated merchandise which is likely to appeal to children, or interest them in seeing the film, includes the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World graphic novels and video game (rated PG).

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • While discussing Scott’s seventeen-year-old girlfriend, Scott is asked “Is she hot?” and “Did you guys do it?”
  • In jest, Scott’s male roommate says to Scott, “Does that mean we have to sleep together?…You’re totally my bitch forever”.
  • When Scott introduces his room mate to his teenage girlfriend Knives he says “This is my gay room mate”. Later Knives asks Scott’s gay room mate if he would like to know who the gay boys are at her school.
  • While at a party, Scott is asked if he has the “hots” for Ramona, and is told that Ramona is “hard core” and has men dying at her feet.
  • Scott tells his room mate that he got to second base with Ramona the night before.  
  • A reference is made to Scott’s room mate ‘gaying up” the phone. 
  • Scott gets his words mixed up saying “I want to pee on her (Knives)”. In another scene Scott mixes up his words saying that he was “in lesbian” with Ramona instead of “in love” with.
  • One of Ramona’s exes is a young woman. Ramona tells Scott that it was just a phase she was going through and that she was “bi-curious” at the time.
  • While at a party, Scott asks Ramona if there is anyone there that she hasn’t slept with.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • We see an image of Ramona from the back wearing a bra, shorts and stockings.
  • Romana gets into bed with Scott wearing underwear - brief pants and a bra. They kiss passionately and then Ramona tells Scott that she has changed her mind and doesn’t want to have sex but that she reserves the right to change her mind back again at any moment.
  • Scott’s gay room mate makes eyes at Scott’s sister’s boyfriend, and a short time later we see the two men kissing each other passionately.     
  • Ramona and Scott kiss passionately.
  • A couple of scenes of women wearing low cut tops that expose cleavage.
  • While Scott is fighting one of Ramona’s exes, a young woman, Ramona tells him that the woman will become sexually aroused if he touches her behind the knee. When Scott touches the young woman behind the knee she falls to the ground having an orgasm.
  • Scott accidentally walks in on his room mate in bed with another man. His room mate makes a remark about Scott seeing the other man’s “junk” genitals and tells Scott that he will need the bed that night for sex.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • In a couple of scenes we see people consuming alcohol at parties and in bars.
  • Scott’s room mate comes home drunk
  • We hear Scott telling Ramona that he feels like he’s on drugs when he is with Ramona.
  • Scott tells Ramona that he doesn’t do drugs, but that if Ramon did that was fine with him and that he would do drugs too.
  • We see Scott in a bar holding two gin and tonics, he drinks one and becomes a little drunk.

Coarse language

There is coarse language and a number of put downs in this movie, including the words:

  • Bitch (used in a variety of expressions), O God, retard, suck, arse (used in a variety of ways), hell, shit, fat arse white girl, you’re a cocky cock, pissed off, kick her in the balls, arsehole, pain in my arse.  
  • The word “fuck” is used on more than a dozen occasions, but on each occasion the image of a black rectangle is placed over the mouth of the person using the word while the word is slightly bleeped out but still easily made out. 

In a nutshell

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a stylised action comedy romance based on a graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Mally. The film is aimed at an adolescent audience and contains action illustrations, split panel shots, graphic novel dialogue, 1970’s style arcade video game violence and pop culture references throughout.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • to be responsible for your own mistakes in life rather than blaming others
  • not to allow past relationships to negatively affect new relationships

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Self respect and honesty: Scott owns up to his mistakes rather than blaming others and takes responsibility for the consequences.
  • Support and love: Scott shows his support of, and love for, Ramona by standing up to those who would manipulate and hurt her. 

Parents may also wish to discuss the consequences of the use of deception in a relationship and the importance of honesty in creating a healthy relationship. By not being honest with Scott, Ramona causes him a great deal of emotional and physical pain, while Scott causes Knives a great deal of emotional heartache by not being honest with her about his relationship with Ramona.

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