Best Movies of All Time + [Steven Spielberg]

PAUL

PAUL
R

Paul is a 2011 sci-fi comedy directed by Greg Mottola. It follows two nerdy Brits - Clive (Nick Frost) and Graeme (Simon Pegg) - as they travel the United States in search of famous locations of alien encounter after spending time at Comic-Con in San Diego. As they're making their way across the American Southwest in their rented RV, they watch as a smaller car spins out of control in front of them in the middle of the highway in the middle of the night. When the two get out to investigate, they meet Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), an human-savvy extra-terrestrial who claims to be on the lam from some sort of government agency. The two men reluctantly agree to help Paul in reaching his final destination, which he only says lies somewhere north of their present location. The trio starts their quest for this place, encountering opposition from a special agent named Zoil (Jason Bateman) while befriending a lonely, intelligent design-ist named Ruth Buggs (Kristen Wiig). The group slowly makes their way towards their final destination where Paul hopes to leave Earth for good.

I've known about Paul for quite a while, mostly because of my slight obsession with the past endeavors of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. They smashed onto the movie scene with 2004's Shaun of the Dead and upped the ante with 2007's Hot Fuzz. In both films, they turned a certain film type (zombie/romantic comedy and buddy cop flick, respectively) on their ears, and with Paul, they were trying to do the same with the sci-fi adventure. And while it's not quite at the level of their previous two films, Pegg and Frost definitely do enough with this one to make it an enjoyable venture.

The storyline really isn't much to applaud. We've basically got your standard road trip flick infused with some teenage-oriented raunchy comedy to fill our appetites. I'm sure that alone doesn't sound entirely appealing, but for this group of people, it finds a way to work. However, the real strength with the screenplay is the references to classic films past. Like Rango, Paul pays rather often homage to the great films that have come before it. Here's a short list of the films that I definitely found reference to: Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, Lorenzo's Oil, The Karate Kid, and Back to the Future. Some of the references are larger than others - Star Wars and Close Encounters get their respectful due - but this proves to be a movie that will appeal to those geeks (like me!) who have seen films like the ones listed above.

The level of acting also isn't quite up to the standards that Pegg/Frost films have set in the past, but it's good enough for you to care about the characters on-screen. Pegg and Frost may deliver characters most like their actual personalities in this one, making this one really seem like a labor of love. Wiig is good for a few hilarious scenes as she gets over her obsession with intelligent design. And Rogen is actually very good as the titular character. I think he works best as a voice actor - we get that distinctive voice without actually having to see him act. In addition to the aforementioned actors, be on the lookout for the following actors: Jeffrey Tambor, Jane Lynch, David Koechner, Sigourney Weaver, Bill Hader, Joe Lo Truglio, Blythe Danner, and even a voiced cameo from Steven Spielberg.

All in all, Paul is a fine addition to the Pegg/Frost partnership despite not being quite up to snuff with its predecessors. It's still a fun watch, especially if you're a fan of these two clowns. And if you're a fan of the classic sci-fi films from years past, you should probably do yourself a favor and take in Paul while you can before he blasts off and leaves Earth for good.

Movie Review Summary:Grade: B
2 Thumbs Up