Monday, March 21, 2011

"Paul" is the E.T. you'd actually want to hang out with: B+

As a movie lover and not-so-secret nerd, I love it when I feel like there's people out there who make movies just for me. With sci-fi references up the ying yang with some elements of Cheech and Chong stoner comedy sprinkled on top, "Paul" is meant to be out in the world, giving us nerds a reason to be hopeful for the remaining lot of films for this year.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are a wonderfully funny duo, second only to the UK's hilariously bromantic Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. The thing about Pegg and Frost is that you can genuinely sense that the two of them probably smoke a lot of pot and drink a lot of Guinness and talk about a lot of movies. The thing about "Shaun of the Dead," "Hot Fuzz," and now "Paul," is that each one of them pays tribute to the mainstream elements of their given genre, which is immediately recognized and appreciate by people such as myself.

"Paul" follows the story of Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost), two hardcore sci-fi nerds who take a trip to America to go to Comic-Con and take in the sights of the most infamous UFO hotspots. One night while passing through the desert, Graeme and Clive accidentally meet Paul (Seth Rogen) an incredibly rude yet helpful, pot-smoking, egg-headed alien who's been living on Earth for the past 60 years. After being held prisoner by the U.S. government and with the threat of his brain being extracted and used to further the abilities of human beings, Paul decides to catch a ride with Graeme and Clive in hopes of finding a way back to his planet.

This movie is downright funny. Although several of the funny bits are reserved for sci-fi fans alone, Pegg and Frost obviously wrote the movie for the movie lover in all of us. Even if you're not a die hard movie lover, if you've seen "Close Encounters of The Third Kind," "E.T.," or "Star Wars," you'll be able to pick up on most of the references. A good chunk of the humor comes from Seth Rogen himself, which I was pleased to see after his disastrous fall from comedy grace in "The Green Hornet." He makes a comeback with his Rogen-esque brand of pothead humor vis-a-vis "Pineapple Express." Also adding to the movie's laughability is Kristen Wiig, perhaps the best thing to come out of the SNL crowd since Will Ferrell. She's awkward, ballsy, and completely out of her mind. (I remember first noticing her for her small part in "Knocked Up"). And then you've got Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio (both men made appearances in "Superbad" and "Pineapple Express") as the idiotic rookies on Paul's trail. Finally, throw in some other familiar faces such as Jason Bateman, Jane Lynch, David Koechner, Blythe Danner, Jeffrey Tambor, and Sigourney Weaver - and you've got one hell of a funny movie that's sweet as pie.

Not too many complaints here: The story's end is quite predictable, and the humor is catered to a specific audience which may have some people scratching their heads wondering why everyone else was laughing. The laugh-out-loud gags take a short break midway through, but it picks up again towards the end.

I want to know, what will Simon Pegg and Nick Frost pay tribute to next time? They've done zombies. They've done superhero cops. They've done alien encounters and sci-fi nerdcore. What's the next major movie genre to pay tribute to? I think I'd like to see Pegg and Frost do some kind of accidental Indiana Jones adventure with angry natives and treasure hunting. Or maybe it would be funny to see them pen the next uber-violent, multiple-twists-and-turns whodunit vis-a-vis "Pulp Fiction." Or they could just do a British version of "Dazed and Confused." It doesn't really matter to me, because at the end of the day, I know that I can rely on Pegg and Frist to deliver the goods.

Go see "Paul" and laugh your ass off.


  1. Nice review!

    I'm totally in sync with your analysis of the Pegg/Frost duo, and what makes them so likeable and funny. They've certainly run the gamut of homages and each one has been stellar.

    I'm going to see Paul this upcoming weekend. I'm anticipating being "that" part of the audience that is unabashedly laughing while others are "scratching their heads wondering why."

    P.S. A British version of "Dazed & Confused" would be epic!

  2. @ Matty: Thanks for the kind words! I'm sure you'll enjoy the movie, especially if you saw "Rango." It's funny all the way through! BTW, it's fun to think of who would be the Brit version of Wooderson. Maybe Jude Law? Hahaha!

  3. Hi,

    Nice review that. I have been looking for some hope in reference to "Paul". I absolutely love Pegg and Frost from the good old days of Shaun of the Dead and Spaced. I was worrying that Mr Pegg had gotten a bit to big for his boots lately and lost his charm. I hated Burke and Hare, although that wasn't actually his fault!

    Nice to see that there is a glimmer of hope for this film and Rogen didn't ruin it with too much of that infamous laugh.

    I agree with you totally on Kristen Wiig, her dead beat delivery always has me in stitches.

    Thanks for the review I am looking forward to seeing this now



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