Paul (2011)

Paul (2011) — So the first thing to get out of the way is you need to manage your expectations. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost were the stars (and in Pegg’s case co-writer) of two of the very best movies of the 2000s: Shaun of the Dead & Hot Fuzz. Expecting Paul to be on the same level is a recipe for disappointment (for one thing Edgar Wright, co-writer and director of those two films, sat this one out to do Scott Pilgrim). However if you don’t have your sights set that high, Paul is a consistantly entertaining and funny. Greg Mottola, director of Superbad and Adventureland, helms this one and the movie plays as an hour and a half love letter to all things having to do with geekdom. Numerous lines, music cues, and visual gags are lifted directly from movies like Star Wars, Aliens, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., and Jaws (yeah I know that last one’s not an alien movie, but still). Pegg and Frost are likable as the leads as is Seth Rogen as the voice (and motion capture) of Paul, the titular alien. More inconsistent is Kristen Wiig as a caricature of an evangelical Christian who suddenly abandons her faith due to Paul’s existence. This leads to a gag where she tries cursing a lot, but hasn’t quite got the hang of it. As someone who is more or less agnostic I’m totally cool with pro-atheist stances in movies but I don’t think Wiig’s [apparently rather weak] belief system add anything to her character, despite it being her only clearly-defined trait. Jason Bateman doesn’t do a whole lot as the special agent chasing Paul, though his underlings (Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio) are funny. All in all, I liked Paul and it may not rank amongst the best comedies of the decade like other Pegg/Frost films but it made me laugh.

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