Paul (2011)

“We’re just a couple of regular guys, walking down the street, with a small cowboy.”

Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Seth Rogen

Paul

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost team up once again to give us Paul, a comical science fiction film about an alien trying to get back to his home planet.

When two British comic book geeks travel to America for Comic Con, they plan a road trip on the way back that will see them pass through all of the top UFO hotspots. Always curious and interested in extra-terrestrial life, Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) are astonished when an alien named Paul appears and asks for refuge in their RV Campervan. They agree to take Paul where he wants, yet all the while being chased by the FBI who want to capture and kill him.

Obviously with Pegg and Frost in a film together it’s a definite recipe for comedy, though I don’t think Paul is their best. Their earlier films – Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz – were brilliant, so my expectations for Paul were quite high. I didn’t find myself laughing as much as I did with the others though and when it ended I was a bit disappointed with the overall result. It was still full of humour, but more of a crude type that I didn’t really enjoy. With clever references to other sci-fi flicks spread throughout the film, it will definitely please the more genre specific people in audience who love anything to do with aliens and out-of-this-world subject matter, or just appreciate the genre as a whole.

The CGI was fantastic. Paul looked so real and it was consistently believable, just as if he was another actor on set; having Seth Rogan do his voice over was a brilliant choice too. We also see notorious Alien actor Sigourney Weaver take the role as the agent leading the operation to catch Paul, although she isn’t revealed in person until the end. It’s a nice little surprise for all die hard sci-fi fans though her performance, albeit clever and self-referential, wasn’t all that memorable.

Whereas with the previous films that Pegg and Frost have fronted Edgar Wright had directed, Paul saw them step more into Hollywood with Greg Mottola as the man with the plan (he had previously worked on Superbad and Adventureland). The film moves at quite a slow pace and not much happens with the plot line, it’s a constant back and forth between the Campervan and FBI with not much action in between. This is where it differed again with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Sometimes it lost my attention and I think the film could have done with a bit more going on with the plot.

Overall Paul is a good, comedic, science fiction film. With many references to both well known and underrated science fiction films, it will sit well with audiences that watch due to its genre. While it isn’t as good as other Pegg-Frost collaborations, Paul has great CGI and humour that still deserve a watch – if you like that type of thing.

Star rating:  6.5/10

Directed by Greg Mottola.

Running time 104 minutes.

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