It isn’t going to make you bust a gut (well, maybe once or twice) BUT it had me smiling the whole way through. Paul is the perfect example of how a comedy full of smiles, good characters and a fun story can be better than one with a few big guffaws and little else.
There’s no denying the Simon Pegg and Nick Frost chemistry. They are friends in real life and their hetero-love for each other comes across every time they pair up on the big-screen, whether working with the usual menage a trois with director Edgar Wright or, like with Paul, teaming up with a new director. The new director this time around is Greg Mottola, the man behind Superbad and Adventureland (as well as plenty of Undeclared and Arrested Development).
Greg Mottola continues his impressive comedic run with another solid directing effort here… but there is a small part of me that would have like to see the version that Edgar Wright might have made (but let’s not get too off topic right?). This is the first time Mottola bring his cameras to open stretches of road and landscapes, most of which he films quite beautifully. The direction, like everything else in the film, is not in your face as much as it is in service of the film (a nice change from the often stylistic-heavy tendencies these days).
The cast are all great. Writers and stares Pegg and Frost share that effortless chemistry and give us two earnest and well drawn English nerds enjoying their first trip to America. After comic-con, they explore a few UFO hotspots and run into the most interesting, enjoyable and heart-warming character in the film, Paul himself (voiced PERFECTLY by Seth Rogen). Paul is obviously a key part of the film’s success because, as Star Wars has taught us, it’s always a risk to rely heavily on a CG character. They not only pull it off, they knock it out of the park. His eyes have so much emotion in them that the rest of the rather standard CG work flies by unnoticed. Paul feels real and I loved him.
The rest of the supporting players are good in their various roles… Kristen Wiig is a scene stealer and the second best performance behind Rogen’s voice-work. I totally fell in love with her reformed devout Christian who’s eye(s) are opened to a whole new world of kissing and fornicating and swearing. She’s lovely and hilarious. Jason Bateman, Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio work well together as the three agents in hot pursuit of our heroes with Sigourney Weaver and Jeffrey Tambor making good cameos.
This film is what we hope all mainstream, Hollywood movies to be… entertaining. It’s a fun story with great characters and a lot of heart. Yes, I went there. Corny? Sure but that doesn’t change the fact that a little genuine heart in a comedy can go a long way (just look at the failure of Due Date… even if I did like it). Not as solid as Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz but Paul definitely delivers the goods (and enough geek references to satisfy that demo as well).
And that’s Jenga.
Official Synopsis: “Simon Pegg and Nick Frost reunite for the comedy adventure Paul as two sci-fi geeks whose pilgrimage takes them to America’s UFO heartland. While there, they accidentally meet an alien who brings them on an insane road trip that alters their universe forever.
For the past 60 years, an alien named Paul (Seth Rogen) has been hanging out at a top-secret military base. For reasons unknown, the space-traveling smart ass decides to escape the compound and hop on the first vehicle out of town-a rented RV containing Earthlings Graeme Willy (Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Frost).
Chased by federal agents and the fanatical father of a young woman that they accidentally kidnap, Graeme and Clive hatch a fumbling escape plan to return Paul to his mother ship. And as two nerds struggle to help, one little green man might just take his fellow outcasts from misfits to intergalactic heroes.”