A foul-mouthed, pot smoking alien and a strong supporting cast make this sci-fi comedy worth a watch.
Director: Greg Mottola MPAA Rating: R Studio: Universal
First, best buds Simon Pegg and Nick Frost spoofed the zombie genre in the cult classic Shaun of the Dead. Next, the duo paid homage to buddy-cop movies like Point Break and Bad Boys II with Hot Fuzz. Now Pegg and Frost are onscreen together in Paul, an amusing road-trip picture directed by Superbad’s Greg Mottola that is like a love letter to sci-fi nuts.
Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) have flown from England to geek out at Comic-Con in San Diego, but they are also in the States to take a pilgrimage in an RV to America’s UFO hotspots. Along a desert road they encounter Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), a smartass alien who can heal organisms with his touch and become invisible by holding his breath. Paul has escaped from the government and just wants to “phone home,” so a stunned Graeme and Clive—who heretofore could have only dreamt about meeting an extraterrestrial—are game to help the little green guy to his rendezvous point. To get there they will have to dodge hostile rednecks and the relentless pursuit by Agent Zoil (Jason Bateman), who is under increasing pressure from government directress the “Big Guy” (Sigourney Weaver) to capture Paul.
If the cutesy pictures of Paul that you’ve seen on the Internet or billboards gave you the impression that this was a kiddie flick, blow that thought out the airlock. Paul swears like a trucker, makes off-color jokes and smokes pot, making him the ideal travel companion in this R-rated comedy that is also available in an unrated version with six additional minutes on DVD and Blu-ray.
As funny as Pegg and Frost always are, it’s the supporting cast that really busts the gut here. Kristen Wiig—who plays a fundamentalist Christian whose beliefs are shattered after she meets Paul—is hilarious as her character sheds years of repression in an avalanche of raunchy talk and lascivious behavior. Bateman plays it straight as the frazzled agent with two agent dunderheads (Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio) in tow, and Weaver goes into full Ripley mode as she tosses Pegg around at the film’s end.
It’s a hoot to see the guys from Shaun of the Dead running from the iconic heroine from the Alien movies in a film peppered with references to sci-fi classics such as Star Wars, E.T.: The Extraterrestrial and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. If you’ve never had a nerdgasm about any of those movies—apologies for your sad childhood—then lots of Paul’s humor and references will be over your head. The rest of you will find this little slice of nerd nirvana to be out of this world.
Best extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain bloopers, “The Evolution of Paul,” “Simon’s Silly Faces,” “Who the Hell Is Adam Shadowchild?” commentary, galleries and more. Exclusive to the Blu-ray is “Between the Lightning Strikes: The Making of Paul” and several behind-the-scenes featurettes.