Paul is an enjoyable and funny sci-fi road movie sure to please all Pegg and Frost fans.
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost made their mark as a duo back in 2004 with the hit zombie comedyShaun of the Dead. They once again collaborated with Shaun director Edgar Wright on Hot Fuzzin 2007. From then on, I just loved these two guys on screen. Reminiscent of such comedy duos as Farley & Spade or Martin & Aykroyd, Frost & Pegg deliver such on-screen chemistry and humor that it’s almost instant magic when they’re on the screen together. Paul proves to be no different. While probably the least funny of the duo’s three outings, Paul still provides many laughs and will not leave fans of the duo disappointed.
Paul follows the tale of two British comic-book nerds (Graeme and Clive) who are on the trip of a lifetime when they finally visit the U.S. and Comic-Con. After the convention, they seek to further appease the sci-fi geek in themselves as they take a road trip across the country intending to hit all of the UFO landmarks….including Area 51. It isn’t far from Area 51 that these two everyday geeks have their lives changed forever.
Out in the middle of the desert, driving along in their RV, the two witness a car crash. Pulling over to see if they can be of any help, the two come across a sight that would surely provide a nerd-gasm to any hardcore sci-fi geek. Or in the case of Clive (Frost) cause him to faint and piss himself. There standing next to the wreckage is quirky alien Paul. A weird name for an alien indeed, but one that stuck after Paul’s spaceship landed on and killed a dog by the same name upon Paul’s first landing on Earth.
After the shock wears off and introductions are made, Paul convinces Graeme (Pegg) to help him out and aid him in fleeing from his captors so that he may return home once again. Paul, upon serving his purpose to the government, had been set to be terminated at Area 51 before he escaped his prison and fled for his life. It was then he ran into the comic book nerds as if by fate. With Paul and Graeme loading up the still unconscious Clive, so begins this quirky road trip, as the trio must evade agents and overcome obstacles to get their newfound friend Paul back where he belongs.
While it’s been proven the Pegg and Frost work well together, I initially wondered how well Seth Rogen (the voice of Paul) would fit in. Let me assure you, the chemistry is unharmed and Rogen fits it plenty well enough. With his rude manners and quips, Paul is something of a lovable little pot-smoking, crude, excessively-cussing alien. Think of him like E.T. but for your younger adult crowd. He provides plenty of laughter throughout the movie along with Pegg and Frost. The back and forth between the three provide plenty of funny moments that make this an entertaining adventure.
If I have one problem with the Paul character, it’s a picky one. Paul is voiced straight up by Rogen. Meaning there’s no voice done or post-production altering of the voice, just flat-out it’s Seth Rogen you hear. This, to a degree I think, took away from becoming totally attached to that character because it was always just Seth Rogen “hiding” behind an alien mask for me. It’s not one of those characters that becomes a character of its own like E.T. or Gollum. However, this doesn’t ruin the movie by any means, and you still find yourself wishing you had a Paul of your own to kick back, smoke a joint with and have a fun crude time.
Pegg and Frost, already self-confirmed sci-fi nerds, essentially just play nerdier versions of themselves and do so well. As I mentioned, the chemistry between these two is undeniable and they provide some good laughs yet again. Combine this trio with some funny supporting cast members and cameos (Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman, Jane Lynch, Bill Hader and David Koechner), you’ll have plenty of moments that will keep you laughing.
At the core of it all, too, is a heart-felt movie about compassion and one’s journey home or to finding themself. Couple this with the humor and this movie is sure to put a smile on your face. With plenty of inside jokes and references that will appeal to sci-fi geeks, this has a little bit of everything for just about anyone. Of course, don’t bring the kids as this is the adult version of E.T., thus it is much more crude and has adult situations in it.
All is not grand with the movie though. I can’t heap endless praise on it and imply there is no fault. The first thing being: Edgar Wright is indeed missed in this third outing from Pegg/Frost. While still funny and enjoyable, the movie definitely lacks something that their previous two outings did. My guess is the writing and direction of Edgar Wright. Some of that charm is definitely missing. While still entertaining indeed, Paul loses a touch of that magic and humor thatShaun and Hot Fuzz had. This makes the movie feel a bit flat in places. A somewhat bland version of Men In Black meets E.T.. As I mentioned, there are plenty of funny moments, but plenty also fall in the category of just amusing and worth a chuckle rather than laugh-out-loud type moments. The story itself is rather cliche and unimaginative as well. This “blandness” causes things to droll on to a slight degree at moments. Though the characters are likable and the cast soon patch things over with their comedic content to keep things rolling along.
Despite its slight shortcomings, Paul does indeed provide several laughs and some good entertainment. While possibly slightly generic/bland, the movie is a fun ride and one that will surely please any Pegg or Frost fans while also making sci-fi nerds a bit giddy over the inside jokes/references. For any fan of this pair’s previous two movies, Paul may not end up being your favorite of the three, but it’s definitely worth the watch and you won’t leave disappointed.