Paul: A Review

This movie is the third collaboration (that I know of) of British comedians/writers Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who first appeared on Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, both sleeper hits in Europe and America. This time around, the two friends star in this geeky Sci-Fi comedy about two space nerds Clive Gollings (Frost) and Graeme Willy (Pegg) visiting the US for the first time to go to Comic Con and cross country road trip to touch on all the alien hotspots in America. Instead, they find themselves stuck helping a weed-smoking, chocolate munching, beer drinking alien rendevous with his ride home.

As the story goes, Clive, who is a graphic novelist, and Greame, his illustrator and childhood buddy get a close encounter with the very species they write about when stumble across Paul on the side of a highway. Paul is an alien who has been willingly stranded on earth for several decades, but is  now on the run from mysterious government agents who want to cut off his brain to figure out the puzzle of his unique abilities to heal and become invisible — the only thing that he has not yet shared with the humans who have harbored him for the entire time he was on earth.

For this outing, Pegg and Frost (who wrote the story), teamed up with their American counterparts Seth Rogen (as the voice of Paul)  David Koechner, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman, Jane Lynch and even Sigourney Weaver to combine British humor with good ole American comedy. Safe to say, there was a lot of humor in the movie. That was a given, because of the amount of starpower in the cast alone actually read like Stand Up Comedian Convention of sorts. As a whole, I wasn’t quite sure it worked out as well as I hoped it would be.

As expected, there was a lot of toilet humor involved, a lot of cussing, and a lot of gay jokes thrown in for good measure. Pegg and Frost as geek BFFs were very sympatheric lead characters, but when Kristen Wiig came out as Ruth, the devout Christian who eventually became the foul mouthed slut that was Pegg’s love interest, it kind of reminded me of Chyler Leigh’s Jenny in Not Another Teen Movie, except she was younger. Bill Hader did not help much with his portrayal of a rookie government agent saddled with his goofy partner Joe Lo Truglio. He was sometimes funny, but mostly annoying with his exaggerated movements as a goofball trying too hard to make it to the big leagues. I felt at times that there was nothing unique about the characters and that we’ve seen these gags somewhere else before at some point.

No surprise there because, if there is anything to be said about the movie, it was pretty much a spoof of all alien movies tied together by a simple story illustrated by segment after segment of gags, which worked individually but did not quite stick when presented as a whole. It was as if the whole team put all of their ideas in a bowl and decided to use them all instead of choosing the best ones to form the screenplay.

In all fairness to the movie, it managed to evoke genuine emotion towards the end when the final twists were revealed and extent of friendship is pushed and tested. As a whole, it was not the lol-a-minute movie that I have grown accustomed to from Pegg and Frost, but it was not a bad try at all… a transition period from British comedy to American territory, and it was a passable comedy that works on many levels.