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Paul

A 2011 comedy movie directed by Greg Mottola.

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A fun, often funny, and breezy comedy. Not as good as I would have hoped, but still entertaining.

  • Mar 23, 2011
Rating:
+2
 **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 it to. Once again, Frost and Pegg deliver a genuinely good time, but this time, it is one that shall easily be forgotten. "Paul" is entertaining, well-cast, and is directed by "Superbad" and "Adventureland" helmer Greg Mottola. Mottola is a force to be reckoned with; making "Superbad" alone makes him a genuine bad-ass. But he hasn't made an equally as raunchy comedy since, and maybe that's a good thing. "Paul" is crude like "Adventureland", and intends on focusing on buddy-love much like "Superbad". It's certainly crude, but never does it touch a subject such as male-bonding as well as "Superbad" does. Mottola has done better than this, and so has the pairing of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. It's kind of disappointing, given that "Hot Fuzz" and "Shaun of the Dead" (both former films which paired the two actors with spectacularly fun results) were such funny and therefore great movies. But like helpful technology, you need to know how to USE actors such as Pegg and Frost. Edgar Wright knew how. Mottola seems to have a handle on the basics, but never goes beyond what you'd expect out of the guy. With that being said, I still see "Paul" as a pretty fun movie with some big laughs, a surplus of little laughs, and an equally as solid amount of moments where you're supposed to laugh, but you don't. Maybe you don't find yourself laughing because "Paul" is genuinely repetitive half of the time. But the good news that accompanies the "bad news" here is that when it's not repetitive, the film is actually pretty darn funny. As I said, it's funny; but it's also forgettable. But it's not like the concept could have worked much better, right? At the least; it was going to be entertaining. Thank god that in the end, it pretty much WAS. I appreciate "Paul" as well as the entertainment that it brings to this ever-so-dull year of film. I will not call it a bad film, and it's not a "see" or a "miss". If you feel like watching it whilst spending money on a ticket, then you're in for a decent but uneven road-trip comedy...with an alien. I enjoyed it; and so will, as I imagine, a good number of people who purchase a ticket.

"Paul" opens strong with a genuinely funny scene set entirely at San Diego Comic-Con; where our two lovably bumbling slacker/nerd/heroes, Clive and Graeme, are searching for some new, hot toys to feed their nerd fetishes with; as only nerds do. They're in America, so they suppose that it would be intelligent to visit some hotspots (specifically, alien hotspots). The beginning of the film is really funny (there is a scene where Graeme and Clive are in a hotel, and when the doorbell rings, they scream "Pizza!" like a lot of squirmy, sweaty little children). But as you can expect, things don't stay hilarious forever. The trailer of their transport is in back of a car one night, and that car randomly explodes and catches on fire. The two nerds go to check it out; and discover a living, breathing alien named Paul. Now, Paul is no ordinary alien. He speaks "the English", he smokes cigarettes, and he's a potty-mouthed little bastard. Most comedies have their generic, swearing old person or quirky fellow; but "Paul" has an alien. And the alien has multiple purposes in the story; he wants our two likable nerds to transport him back home, wherever that is. The road-trip progresses as only a road-trip movie can. Emotions such as love, hate, jealousy, and humor are thrown around as if it were a ping pong match, while Paul has to deal with all the crap. Yeah, it was funny. There were definitely some amusing parts; some unintentional, some definitely intentional. And there's also a lot of sci-fi movie references, so if you enjoy that kind of thing, then "Paul" is the road-trip movie for you. It doesn't do anything new, but it doesn't need to. Deep down, the film has somewhat of a heart; and even though the thing never extends beyond being entertaining and often times funny, it's still enjoyable to watch. If only the clichés had felt less unintentional, then this movie would have been hilarious. If it was supposed to be so generic in its plot, then I think I would have gone in knowing that. But when life gives you Greg Mottola, you get "Paul". It's entertaining and fun enough for you to hold off on complaining, for the most part, and just go with the flow.

Perhaps the biggest problem with "Paul", among many, is the lack of extreme energy and chemistry between the two leads; Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. While they are admittedly entertaining to watch, and the performances are solid, it's not as good as their perfect work in "Hot Fuzz" and "Shaun of the Dead". Whenever they quarrel, complain, or so much as talk; nothing special happens. You just don't laugh, and you don't feel compelled to remember the performances. The source of the problem is the man in the director's chair, Greg Mottola. Now, don't get me wrong; I respect Mr. Mottola. But he wasn't the right guy to direct Pegg and Frost, together. Edgar Wright may be the only man alive who can truly tame the two-man beast; and he's the guy who should have (and at the same time, shouldn't have) made this movie. On the bright side, the supporting cast is abundant with color. Seth Rogen provides a good vocal performance to Paul; and he inhabits the character well. There are also some decent performances from Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, and Sigourney Weaver. And there are also some clever cameos from Jane Lynch, Blythe Danner, and even the great Steven Spielberg; the man who Paul apparently gave some "inspiration" to. Wooh, writing.

Comedy runs abroad in "Paul", but in a rather messy and uneven fashion. Some of it is really funny, some of it is just funny, and some of it isn't funny at all. If "Paul" is never funny; then it's when the thing repeats jokes, which it does a lot. It often feels like that annoying kid who takes the joke way too far, to the point where it's funny no longer. But the film still has some of Mottola's directorial cleverness within it, and the moments that embraced that style tended to stick out the most. The film can indeed be clever, and quite funny. It's a shame that the characters aren't well-written, by any means, because if they had been, "Paul" would have been much more than just decent. I saw it with some friends, all who thought it was pretty darn good. I thought it was forgettable, and all-around just "OK". I got the references. I laughed. But once again, clichés come and try to ruin our fun. This didn't happen in "Adventureland" or "Superbad". Those films never felt sappy, and they weren't faking it. But then again, "Paul" is slightly different. It's not about coming-of-age; it's just about befriending an alien who smokes and swears, and finally getting him home. Paul himself is a problem for the film; since he isn't even that convincing of an alien. He can be funny on occasion, but aliens making penis jokes just gets tiresome after the first good go-round. But people will still laugh anyways. Other than that, "Paul" looks fine, doesn't have too creative or too bad of a soundtrack, and it at its best when exploring the areas of geek culture in non-descriptive or observant, but still entertaining matters. This all happens in the beginning, but sadly, things tend to change for the worst when the film nears its end. But it's still well-constructed and funny enough to be on the good side of decent. I envy nothing that has been done in "Paul", but it would seem as if Pegg and Frost at least had some fun starring in it. But this time, their epic pairing does not make the movie. Not at all.

I wasn't expecting "Paul" to be as awesome as "Hot Fuzz" or "Shaun of the Dead" (different director; yes, I have logic). But then again, I did not expect it to be disappointing; which is (kind of) is. But I was entertained by the film for a lot of the time, and it was actually pretty funny. Yes, it's not a total recommendation; but it's a film to watch when you're in the mood for some damn good slacking. It's good for that; but nothing much else. It does not go without its pleasures, one of them being the Comic-Con scenes (which tend to star Jeffrey Tambor as a hilariously generic and mean sci-fi novelist). A part of my likes the nerd culture, and a part of me wonders how many of them will be pleased with how "Paul" portrays it. I don't think it's extremely accurate; and an all-out nerd-fest should never be boring. Which is a bit of a problem considering that "Paul" CAN be boring, but it's never bad anyways. I appreciate the existence of the film, and it does what it wants to do pretty well. It's a road-trip movie with a crass alien, what more could you want. I could name a lot of things that "Paul" could have given me that it didn't, but at the same time I question if there would be a point. All I have to say for Mottola is: (genuinely) well done, man. This movie will please, and possibly disappoint. If you see it, see it because it's probably going to give you more true laughs than nigh any film in 2011. It's not going to be a cult classic, but people will laugh. I laughed; and it feels good to not have to feel ashamed of it. I still have an immature side to me, but that side can only take so much uninventive immaturity at a time. If you change the joke, then I will laugh (as long as it is clever). "Paul" can be clever, but it doesn't change as much as it should. And maybe that's why it's funny, entertaining, but ultimately forgettable.

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March 23, 2011
sweet review! I liked this one but I hear you on Mottola. Mayhap I was a little more lenient with this one since I like Pegg and Frost, and it did make me laugh quite a bit. Thanks for the review!
March 23, 2011
I have featured this in the community!
 
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
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It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Wiki

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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Details

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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