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A 2011 comedy movie directed by Greg Mottola.

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The Alien You'd Want to Have a Beer With

  • Mar 19, 2011
Star Rating:

It’s no longer enough that aliens exist. Now they have to act exactly as we do. Or, at least, as the immature eighteen-year-olds we all were at a certain point. The inherent flaw of Paul, the newest comedy written by and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, is that, by making the title character a foulmouthed, wisecracking, beer-chugging, pot-smoking, English-speaking dude, he becomes the most human of them all. The best we get is that he can make himself invisible by holding his breath, he can bring dead animals back to life – and, of course, he sports a classic Little Green Man appearance. We, of course, know zilch about authentic extraterrestrial life (contrary to what the conspiracy theorists will have you believe), so it is technically conceivable that aliens do actually behave this way. Until we get some actual proof, however, I’d prefer we stick to the standard Hollywood model: They can’t speak a human language, they have no understanding of our customs, and they probe the human anus.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m very picky when it comes to my sense of humor. Pegg and Frost clearly have some very funny ideas, although I wonder if they’re aware that not all of them translate visually; some things are simply better on paper. They also have a tendency to limit their jokes to specific genres, in effect alienating (pardon the pun) sizeable audiences. What Paul has going for it is that, as a parody of science fiction, it makes loving and often hilarious references to films that just about everyone has seen, including Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Aliens. They were smart to go that route. But what if they had opted for less widely accepted films, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey or Blade Runner? If references were made to them, I guarantee you they would be understood only by those deeply invested in science fiction fandom.

In the film, Pegg and Frost play Graeme Willy and Clive Gollings, British nerds in the U.S. who take a self-guided tour of all the Southwestern sci-fi hotspots, starting at San Diego Comic-Con. As they travel in a rented RV towards Roswell, they witness a car accident on a lone desert road; when they go to see if anyone is hurt, they find that no one is in the vehicle. They decide to call for help. Just then, an alien emerges from the darkness, and warns them to put the phone down. His name – at least, his Earth-given nickname – is Paul, a computer-generated character brought to life via performance capture and the voice of Seth Rogen. Given the personality of the role, I suppose Rogen was the right casting choice. Still, I’m face with an inescapable realization, namely that, apart from his appearance in Funny People, he’s incapable of playing anyone other than himself.
Long story short: Paul crashed on Earth back in 1947, was taken into custody by the American government, and has now decided it was time to escape and return to his own planet. Graeme and Clive decide to help him. Needless to say, their comedic misadventures will be numerous. They will eventually gain a fourth passenger: Ruth Buggs (Kristen Wiig), who has an eye condition and was raised in a trailer park by a Bible-thumping man named Moses (John Carroll Lynch). Ruth will not only have her faith shaken by Paul, but will also want to indulge in what she thought was sinful. This character contributes absolutely nothing of substance to the story; she’s merely a tool to generate unnecessary laughter. This is mostly achieved through swearing, of which she needs a lot of practice.

Hot on Paul’s trail is Special Agent Zoil (Jason Bateman), who’s under the command of a mostly unseen government official known only as The Big Guy (Sigourney Weaver, which is admittedly an inspired casting choice). Zoil, a ruthless professional who never cracks a smile, has to contend with inept rookie agents (Bill Hader and Joe Lo Trulio), who are kept in the dark as to the nature of their mission. One of them is a sci-fi nerd like Graeme and Clive. Although this leads to a number of tiresome and repetitive jokes about how many breasts a cartoon alien should have, it’s still funnier than when learn that Zoil’s first name is Lorenzo.
This film does feature some very clever insider references, and I will not spoil any of them for you. It even manages a few laugh-out-loud moments. But on the whole, movies like Paul just don’t do it for me. Perhaps I’m flawed in that I’m really not on the Simon Pegg and Nick Frost bandwagon; I missed Hot Fuzz, and although I enjoyed Shaun of the Dead as an homage to zombie films, I never thought it was a comedic masterpiece. But I think I was most bothered by the title character, who must represent some adolescent fantasy of the Cool Alien. It sort of fits into what many consider the sole criteria of electing a U.S. President: If he seems like a guy you would want to have a beer with, it wouldn’t matter that he says nothing important and doesn’t have much to offer.


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March 19, 2011
On this one, we had the same thoughts and I understand why you would say you are picky with your sense of humor. I liked this one and rated it according to how many times it made me laugh, and how much I was entertained.  I agree some of the jokes didn't blend well visually though. Nice review!
March 19, 2011
With the exception of Funny People, Seth Rogen films just don't do it for me. I did recommend Pineapple Express, although more for its story than its sense of humor -- truthfully, I never thought stoner jokes were funny. As for Pegg and Frost, I've heard nothing but good things, but somehow, it's not getting through to me as well. Like I said, I missed Hot Fuzz, so maybe I need to see it to really know what I'm talking about.
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review by . March 18, 2011
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“Buddy Flicks” are also a dime-a-dozen these days, and I knew it was only a matter of time before someone took the premise of “E.T. the Extraterrestrial” and “Mac and Me” and crammed it into the premise of “Trains, Planes and Automobiles” and "National Lampoons Vacation". Well, the comedic duo of “Hot Fuzz” and “Shaun of the Dead” reunite (curiously missing director Edgar Wright) and together with director Greg Mottola …
review by . March 19, 2011
‘Paul' is Out of the World
Nerds, wizards, people in the craft of war and the rest of the reality inept…May I introduce you to Paul? I had my reservations about this movie, but by the end I was onboard. Paul isn’t complicated; a pair of Brits on holiday at Comic-Con who set out to see the unconventional sights the US has to offer stumble upon a nerds wet dream, a real life alien in need of help.      The film stars Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Seth Rogen who brings to life the sarcastic but …
review by . March 25, 2011
Hollywood had three alien invasions hit theaters this month, each dramatically different films. Disney's Mars Needs Moms is a family friendly animation, Battle:LA is an action heavy flick with an Independence Day meets Cloverfield feel, but it is Paul that clearly brings the house down with an amazing balance of story, comedy and geek-tastic references.  Although the box office might rank Battle: LA higher than Paul, I would not judge the films in that order.  I think Paul is …
review by . October 11, 2011
It's the new super-sexy Express Review format that celebrates A.D.D.   Paul is the worst comedy of 2011, if not the worst film, period. I didn't fall for the "two British guys travelling must be gay" gag the first time or even the twentieth time it was used. Making the Baptists look dumb didn't quite do it for me either. I did smile once when I remembered I still had a frozen pizza I hadn't eaten. The casting department miscast Seth Rogen as the voice of the …
review by . March 23, 2011
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 **1/2 out of ****      There's a sci-fi movie/comic-book geek in all of us. Deep down; we were adventurous at one point on our lives. But some people don't grow up, in fact, many don't. Two of the kids who fail to grow up, even past twenty years of age, are the characters of "Paul"; two geeks by the names of Graeme and Clive. These two are played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, respectively, and the whole affair essentially turns out as you'd expect …
review by . March 01, 2011
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From the TV show Spaced to the movies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have rapidly proved themselves to be one of the great modern double acts of comedy, but, somewhat surprisingly, Paul is their first fully developed writing collaboration.      In this highly entertaining comedy/sci-fi adventure, Pegg & Frost play Graeme & Clive, two British sci-fi geeks who experience a little more than they bargained for during a trip to the USA. Following …
review by . March 18, 2011
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PAUL   Written by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost   Directed by Greg Mattola   Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman and Seth Rogen       Graeme Willy (at Comic-Con): I love it here.  It feels right.       It has never been cool to be a nerd, but if the nerd community has proven anything in recent years, it is that they are a force to be reckoned with.  They will band together when necessary …
review by . April 04, 2011
Paul Pleases To A Degree
Paul comes from the minds of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, both of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame.  The Brits play a pair of science fiction loving nerds who, after attending the San Diego Comic Con, inadvertantly run into Paul while on a road trip to famous alien encounter spots in the American Southwest.         Paul is on the run from Area 51 and a few men in black who have very bad plans for him.  As he, Frost, and Pegg are on the …
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Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #2
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) 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 (voiced by 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...
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Director: Greg Mottola
Genre: Comedy, Sci-Fi
Release Date: 14 February 2011 (UK) 18 March 2011 (US)
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Nick Frost, Simon Pegg
Runtime: 104 mins
Studio: Working Title, Relativity Media
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