Everything you know about aliens from pop culture is true. At least that's the message from Paul, a swift, sharp, and very funny movie from the creative minds that also brought us Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Superbad, and Adventureland. The British stars of the first two, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, also wrote the snappy screenplay, and director Greg Mottola shows that he can make human and sentimental both the slapstick and the subtle, self-referential humor the same way he did in Superbad and Adventureland. The premise Pegg and Frost have laid out for themselves as likable, sci-fi fanatic supernerds is a dream vacation starting at Comic Con, then continuing through the American Southwest in an RV visiting historic UFO sites like Area 51, the Black Mailbox, and Roswell, and finishing up at Devil's Tower in Wyoming, the iconic centerpiece from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. After their inauspicious start, they happen upon an escaped alien who is 4 feet tall, and has the big head, classic diamond eyes, and features we've come to recognize as both the benevolent and evil kinds of space aliens from movies and TV. He is also the titular character, and as voiced by Seth Rogen, this CGI creature spouts a never-ending string of wisecracks, insider secrets, and frat-boy humor that comes loud and clear as classic Rogen in tone and attitude. As an aside and terrific example of the very clever throwaway punch lines that run throughout, there's a brief flashback to 1980 showing Paul on a conference call with Steven Spielberg (really), giving him advice about script development issues for E.T.
Paul crash-landed in the late 1940s and has been held prisoner by the government's men in black. They've not only been pumping him for knowledge, they've also leaked the fabric and features of his being to people who want to believe, especially the ones in Hollywood. Now Paul wants to go home, and he's found the perfect getaway with the want-to-believe team of Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost), who take him to his rendezvous (at Devil's Tower, of course). The road movie that unfolds is consistently hilarious, moving nimbly through one-off gags and inside jokes, but also creating larger relationships and drawn-out humor that relies on us believing that the little CGI Paul is real. And mostly we do, again thanks to Rogen's delivery and distinctive vocalizing. Paul constantly quips, makes fun, gets drunk, smokes dope, and spouts a steady stream of patter about how aliens have been bowdlerized and reimagined in entertainment and the minds of people like Graeme and Clive. There's a jam-packed supporting cast that complements and complicates the story (in a good way), including Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio as the bumbling men in black, and Jason Bateman as the scary man in black. Also passing through are some fun familiar faces like Jane Lynch, David Koechner, Jeffrey Tambor, John Carroll Lynch, and an iconic sci-fi actress who shall remain unnamed. Especially good is Kristen Wiig as a fundamentalist Christian whose mind is literally blown by Paul. Amid the broad humor and nonstop punch lines there's also a sweetness that stays with each finely drawn character (including Paul) and gives Paul an amiable sentimentality that runs throughout. Everyone clearly had fun making this movie, and that's exactly how it is to watch. --Ted Fry
Close Encounters of the Pegg/Rogen Kind March 20, 2011
By Whitt Patrick Pond
I was a bit hesitant about seeing Paul from the critical reviews and from the trailer, but found myself enjoying it quite a bit when I took a chance and saw it. There's a lot to see in Paul, and much like Galaxy Quest (1999), Paul both mocks its subject matter while at the same time treating it with both understanding and great affection. A lot of talent went into Paul and it shows. Directed by Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland, TV's Arrested Development) and written by Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, TV's Spaced) and Nick Frost, Paul hits all the right comic notes, skewering its target audience knowingly and lovingly.
What makes Paul work is that, at its heart, it's the ultimate scifi road trip. Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost), two major scifi/comics/UFOs fanboys from the UK, are visiting the US on a pilgrimage of sorts, hitting the biggest scifi/comics/gaming convention on the West Coast and making the grand tour of all the famous UFO-lore sites (Area 51, Roswell, 'The Black Mailbox', etc) in a huge honkin' RV. While on the road out in the desert, they witness a car spin out of control and crash. When they hurry to see if they can help, they come face to face with the classic little green alien with huge head and enormous oval eyes. Except that he's smoking a cigarette, introduces himself as 'Paul', and talks like Seth Rogen (mainly because he's voiced by Seth Rogen, absolutely the perfect choice for this role). Paul tells Graeme (Clive's fainted) of his need to escape the government people coming after him and the road trip is on.
The cast is great. Pegg and Frost are perfect in their roles as fanboys who've been buddies since childhood and have never really grown up, Frost's Clive hoping to finish his breakthrough novel and Pegg's Graeme doing the illustrations for it (the triple-breasted alien woman on the cover is a running gag that keeps getting funnier). Rogen gives Paul his personality, quite literally, making him a fairly unique creation: the stoner/slacker alien who's gone native in a lot of ways but has decided it's time to phone home (largely because the powers that be have apparently decided to quit merely picking his brain and remove it instead). Jason Bateman is great as the deadpan Agent Zoil, the 'man in black' hot on Paul's trail. Bill Hader and Joe LoTruglio are excellent comic foils as his low-grade backups, Agents Haggard and O'Reilly. Jeffrey Tambor is a scene-stealer in his role as the arrogant fanboys' icon, Adam Shadowchild. Kristen Wiig adds a lot to the comic mix as Ruth Buggs, a repressed Christian fundamentalist (she wears a t-shirt with Jesus shooting Darwin through the head) whose close-encounter with Paul ends up liberating her in a completely over-the-top way (think Jessica from True Blood, just with aliens instead of vampires). And there's a major cameo that's held in reserve until the climactic scene, but once it's revealed, your reaction will be "Of course! Who else?"
Another fun part of Paul is picking up all of the movie references, and Paul contains a _lot_ of them, sometimes in lines that are either quotes or parodies of quotes, sometimes in scenes or visuals, from just about every major scifi movie imagineable. Star Wars, Star Trek, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Aliens, Back To The Future, E.T., Predator, Starman. You name it, it's probably in there somewhere. My personal favorite is a scene with a country & western band in a biker bar, playing their version of about the last thing you'd ever expect to hear in that context. I really want to get the DVD when it comes out so I can go back and catch all the ones I missed the first time.
There are a few places where things do drag a bit, usually where the toilet/grossout humor (it's Seth Rogen after all) goes on a little too long. But for the most part Paul keeps things going fast and furious, and the cast are so into their roles that even when you can sense the joke coming, it's still funny when it hits you.
Highly recommended for anyone who loves sci-fi/alien films and for anyone who's ever been a fanboy of anything.
Heads up on this one June 4, 2011
So heads up
If your christian faith in god is so weak that you cannot handle a computer generated alien making jokes and presenting logical facts regarding your faith and its almost complete lack of science.... this movie is not for you.
If you cant handle a smart ass little alien who drinks, smokes dope, and tells dirty jokes...this movie is not for you.
If you have no humor at all and find things in a "comedy" offensive...this movie is not for you
if you find two gross British nerds taking the trip of a lifetime and doing what they love un funny or offensive...this movie is not for you
If you find large explosions or the men in black overly scary and offensive... this movie is not for you.
If you enjoy crude humor, atheist overtones, large explosions, smoking dope, telling dirty jokes AND some nerdtastic adventures... this movie is for you. I went into this flick not expecting much but I left happy and I cant wait to buy it!
Hot Fuzz and E.T. had a baby and its head popped off! February 22, 2011
As of writing, this film isn't out in Canada, however a CAM version of the UK release is out, so I am reviewing it based on the version I saw.
When it comes to Brit comedy, nobody does it quite like the Frost/Pegg duo. Both are phenomenal actors and seeing them on screen is a charm. So when I saw the trailer for "Paul" with The Green Hornet,, I must say I was very excited. And I must say, the film didn't disappoint. Is it quite on the same level as the Blood and Ice Cream movies? Definitely not, but it's a great piece of brain popcorn and I believe you will definitely love it.
This movie is basically the plot of E.T. with the humour of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, and it works! Of course you can't go wrong with that combination. Although Edgar Wright didn't direct the film, and the film feels very different from the mentioned two, this film actually manages to have the same level of charm and entertainment as those two. Also, the film has a wide range of good actors- including Jason Bateman, Jane Lynch, and even David Koechner!
Two British nerds, Graeme and Clive, are on a road trip across the US, which they have been dreaming of as kids. They've been dreaming of this as kids, and the highlight so far has been Comic Con San Diego.
They even have met Adam Shadowchild. One night, while in Area 51, Nevada, they witness a car crash, and come across the foul-mouthed alien slacker Paul. But this ain't no District 9 or E.T. Paul is, as mentioned above, is a slacker, and a loud/foul mouth. He is being chased by US government agents, and Graeme and Clive have no choice but to take them with him. Along the way, they pick up a religious chick, an old lady who was wronged by Paul, and it all becomes one wacky and zany adventure.
This is definitely an adults-only version of E.T., and one that manages to entertain all the way through. Tonnes of gross moments and WTF moments as well as belly laughs and crude humour.
Seth Rogen is surprisingly great as the said alien Paul, his voice is surprisingly fitting. He was great in his past year's The Green Hornet, and he does amazingly well here. Pegg and Frost are their usual charming selves, and manage to make a great team. But the highlight of the movie was Kristen Wiig- she was HILARIOUS!!!! Every line from her mouth was gold, and she definitely stole the show. This movie also had lots of heart too, and there is a VERY touching scene near the end I will not spoil.
Overall, this definitely is not Wright material, but if you go into it with an open mind, you will enjoy this movie like I did. Definitely recommended for sure.
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