Sunday, March 20, 2011

New Release: Paul

There are always going to be the optimal audience members for a given film.  Sometimes movie makers make that group so specific that it's possible no one will know they were supposed to be part of it.  I'm a little afraid Paul will be part of that group of movies, with no one aware that this movie was made for them.  Going in, I had no idea this movie was made for me.  **No spoilers if you've seen the trailer or cast list**

Paul reteams the stars of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg - Clive and Graham respectively.  This time, they're more laid back, but in a naive way, with longer hair, a bit more fluff around the middle, and a more happy go lucky attitude.  They have arrived at Comic-Con, the Mecca for geeks, nerds, dweebs and movie-fans alike.  Clive has even written a science fiction novel (about a woman with three tits - apparently that extra tit is a source of endless amusement) and they get their hero's signature.  After Comic-con they set off on a road trip adventure in an RV to visit all of the UFO/alien sites across the US.  I'll admit, these went a little beyond my personal nerd knowledge, but it's really enough to know they have something to do with a sighting/abduction/landing.  Then they witness a car crash and getting out to help, they meet Paul.  About 4' tall, large head, no shirt (just pants - like Mickey Mouse), and a Seth Rogan mouth - literally and figuratively, he does the voice.  Paul is on the run and needs help (the exact reasons are explained slowly).  After Clive (Frost) faints, Graham agrees to help Paul get away.

This is where the I'll try not to spoil the rest - but you can assume, since Paul is on the run, someone must be out to get him.  We get to watch two of the most bumbling agents (Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio) try to figure out what they're looking for and where it is after tough guy, Jason Batemen yells at them at every turn.  Batemen is being controlled by "the Big Guy" who isn't revealed until the end (though the voice is pretty recognizable).  Our troublesome trio (Clive, Graham and Paul) spend the night at a trailer park and kidnap Bible-thumper, Ruth (Kristin Wiig) because she saw Paul.  All along, we get glimpses of Paul's story - how he got to earth, why he's been locked up, what special skills he posseses, and how he'll get back home.

Greg Mottola directed Superbad and Adventureland, and if you've seen those, you know what you're in for with Paul, and it more than lives up to the other two (one of which I did NOT like).  It's more for a grown up group of sci-fi nerds.  There are homages to every single franchise (some more direct than others), and a guest voice appearance when we learn the real source of E.T..  Twilight Zone, The X-files, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. make an entrance.  I'm sure there were more (Doctor Who, comic books) but that was the extent of my knowledge and I laughed my ass off.  Pegg and Frost are their always winning buddy-duo with many recurring jokes and nods to their other work together.  Terrific fun - if you fall into any of the demographics to find elements of this funny.  If you have a nerdy bone in your body, this movie is for you.  3.5 of 5 stars/lambs


Buttercup said...

I know I'm not the demographic, but I can have some quirky tastes sometimes. Is this for me?

Jess said...

Mom says - it's ET grown up smoking and drinking. And then a set of goofballs with good hearts. I bet you'd think Paul was so cute (but I warn you, a dog gets killed in the opening scene - the source of Paul's name). I know you hate when that happens.

Dan O. said...

It's definitely not terrible. I just expected so much more from Pegg, Frost, Mottola and a great supporting cast and subject. Could have been better, but it was still OK and had me laughing here and there. Rogen really does shine as Paul, even though he does nothing new here. Good review, check out mine when you can!

Mike Lippert said...

I really don't find Pegg and Frost that funny and would probably not go out of my way to see them. Both Shaun and Hot Fuzz had some moments but both were dragged down by EDgar Wright's constant desire to turn to graphic violence whenever the opportunity arises and Pegg proved he can't carry a movie by himself in Run Fatboy Run.

As for Motolla, he's such a talented director that it pains me to see a man who can direct something as wonderful, intelligent and human as Adventureland squandering his talent on these movies. I guess you have to pay the bills somehow.

Fletch said...

Can't read this yet - seeing it tomorrow or Sat. for the 'cast. Glad to see a pretty good score from ya, though - makes me feel better. Seems 3.5 is about the general consensus, which is good, but kinda too bad that it's not better. Don't think I've seen one person truly rave about it yet.