Film Review: Spork

Spork is a wonderfully offbeat, music-infused comedy. The impeccable integration of graphics and animation with the live action is presumably the synthesis Scott Pilgrim vs. The World hoped to achieve.

Teenager Spork is bullied by her classmates, and feels very much at odds with the world. Spork decides to take part in a dance competition, and with the help of neighbour Tootsie Roll and friend Charlie, she hopes to stand up to the girls bullying her…

The young age of the protagonists belie a mature story. On the surface, Spork is simply a film about school drama. The issues it addresses, however, move beyond this. At its heart, Spork is a film about acceptance, whether that is from peers or whether it is self-acceptance. The fact that Spork is a hermaphrodite makes her life more difficult, but this does not define either her or the film.

The humour of Spork also adds to this air of maturity. Some of the jokes are more suited to an older audience, coupled with the more colourful language. Spork is very aware of the ethnic diversity of its characters and often reflects on this, mostly humorously.

Spork is a protagonist who is easy to sympathise with, and someone who you can really root for. Although her troubles seem particularly suited to school years, the journey to self-acceptance is universal. Tootsie Roll is a outlandishly entertaining character; she is both humorous and sensitive in her friendship with Spork. Betsy is the stereotypical mean girl. In a film such as Spork, with its cartoonish atmospherics, she appears entirely in keeping as the villain of the piece.

Writer and Director J.B. Ghuman Jr. has created a highly stylised world in which the characters operate in. The environs appear fantastically eighties, with the clothes and hairstyles, props and the music. References to Britney Spears and the like reveal a more recent setting, however. The result is a surreal world, which is heightened by the inclusion of animation and graphics.

Music is a major element of the film; the soundtrack is both modern and retro. The dance sequences are very entertaining, with Tootsie Roll and her crew exhibiting their talents.

The young cast give great performances in this film. Savannah Stehlin as Spork in particular is excellent. Rodney Eastman brings humour and sincerity as Spork’s older brother Spit, while Sydney Post is lively as Tootsie Roll.

Spork is a bright and engaging film that should have a wide appeal, despite the age of its protagonists.

Spork is being screened at the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival in October 2010.

Film Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World did not deserve to bomb as badly as it did at the US box office. However, neither did it deserve the exorbitant amount of hype it received prior to release. The film itself falls somewhere in between worthy of the hype and box office dud.

Scott Pilgrim’s life is turned upside down when he meets Ramona Flowers, literally the girl of his dreams. In order to be with Ramona, he must defeat her seven evil exes…

Based on the graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is much like a live-action cartoon. The combination of computer game graphics with comic book imagery gives the film a fun and interesting look. Director Edgar Wright has excelled in creating a visually pleasing picture.

What the film gains in aesthetics it lacks in depth. The central character, Scott, is not exactly the most endearing protagonist. Cheating on his innocent girlfriend Knives with Ramona does not illicit much sympathy for him in the more emotional moments of the film. Nonetheless, the film puts emphasis on fun rather than drama, so the superficiality does not detract overly from the enjoyment.

A good portion of the humour is derived from Scott Pilgrim‘s references to popular culture. Whilst this will probably resonate with twenty-somethings, it may fall flat with younger or older audiences. The reference to ‘Mega Scott’, for example, will only be amusing to audience members versed in the classic video game Sonic the Hedgehog.

Whilst Scott himself isn’t the most likeable of protagonists, there are several entertaining characters featured. Knives Chau (played by Ellen Wong) is delightfully over excitable. Kieran Culkin is suitably cacophonous as Scott’s roommate Wallace, whilst Anna Kendrick is excellent but underused as his sister Stacey. Among the exes, Chris Evans stands out in his parody of a Hollywood movie star.

In addition to the lively graphics, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World features a great soundtrack. The film isn’t simply a case of style over substance. The film is an enjoyable watch. However, it appears to have a limited appeal. This is part due to its leading man. Michael Cera seems to play a very similar character in all his films. Unfortunately it is a character which a significant sector of filmgoers find annoying. This coupled with the video game and hipster references result in a film that will not attract a wide demographic.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is an enjoyable and amusing movie, but one that does not attain the level of ‘epicness’ it clearly strives for.