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PAUL (2011)

>> Monday, March 21, 2011

Huh ... Who knew being a Canadian meant Seth Rogen would be an alien in the US? (ba dum da)

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost not only star in, but are the writers behind Paul, a comedy about two beer-bellied buddies who are obsessed with everything 'geek'. During a road trip in the US to see all the UFO hot spots, they stumble upon a car crash - and who should emerge from the wreckage but Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen, The Green Hornet), an extraterrestrial who's attempting a daring escape from the famed Area 51.

Soon enough Paul befriends Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) and begins to share stories of his origins (he was nicknamed after the dog he killed when crash landing). Paul also tells how he's spent the last sixty years on Earth living at Area 51 (mainly inspiring pop culture by giving movie ideas to Spielberg for flicks like ET and Close Encounters of the Third Kind). A crucial scene in the film even happens at the iconic Devil's Tower in Wyoming (read about my friend Luke's experience at the Devil's Tower HERE). Also on the roster for making an appearance as Ruth Buggs is the always welcome Kristen Wigg (Date Night, MacGruber). She nearly steals the whole movie once again proving the SNL star is capable of almost anything. We also get a nice performance from Bill Hader - another SNL favourite.

Now, Paul had a lot going for it, including the long awaited reunion of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (last seen together in 2007's Hot Fuzz. Yet it fell short and was 'just okay' for me. So what happened here exactly? I loved Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and I also thoroughly enjoyed Superbad, also directed by Greg Mottola who helms this film. Fact of the matter is - I'm not sure. This movie has all the right theoretical ingredients - great actors, great director, great story, great effects, etc (the list goes on.) It could be that a lot (if not most) of the funny moments are in the trailer for Paul (leaving little surprise); it could be that I thought perhaps it would get a bit more racy than it did being rated not-PG ; we could also blame some of it on the idea that I felt Graeme and Clive were a bit underwhelmed by Paul's presence and the whole thing seemed to lack some awe; or perhaps it was the fact that the filmmakers thought we as viewers would be more surprised by Sigourney Weaver's cameo at the end of the film (despite her voice being heard throughout the entire film prior to her reveal). Although I will say there is a laugh out loud funny moment centered around a certain famous line of Weaver's (that a shockingly small amount of people laughed at in the theatre - for shame).

Despite the shortcomings though, Paul ultimately gets an open door. While it has some weaker moments, Paul still comes through in the end and does have some decent laughs as the decent comedy it is. If I were to consider it the third film that exists under the Pegg/Frost label, it's my least favourite - but barely. But there are far worse pieces of cinema out there - and compared to them (I'm looking at you Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus) this film is ahead by leaps and bounds. The effects and animation are wonderful (as expected) and it'll undoubtedly find an audience. While you may at times forget who wrote Paul, or who directed it - you won't forget it could be funnier (or a little more clever, witty, etc.). Even if you don't know how or where it could use improvement, like life on other planets - you know it could very well be possible.

*Stills courtesy of Relativity Media


Shaun February 21, 2012 at 3:20 PM  

Paul is an interesting mix of British humor and American comedy, and for the most part it works out very good. Not quite as funny as Shaun of the Dead, or The Fuzz, but it can hold its own for a movie night. The cast was diverse but each one brought something to the table and the end cameo was the best I’ve seen in a while. Now I almost wish I would have seen it in the theaters, I missed it then and hadn’t rented the DVD because I forgot about the movie until I was surfing the Cinemax page of DISH online and remembered it was on the short list of movies that I wanted to watch. A bit different on the smaller screen, but it sill had its laugh moments. So when I told the movie nerd I work with at DISH what movie I watched over the weekend, he practically turned his nose up at me, apparently he isn’t fond of British humor, which I don’t understand all.

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