Paul (2011)

“You’ll know it when you see it.”

Today’s movie is Paul the latest acting collaboration from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, (well technically they were in The Adventures of Tintin, but that wasn’t really their movie). It’s a foul-mouthed comedy that mashes up the roadtrip movie with big heap of alien, and some not-so-subtle social commentary.

It’s a broad comedy that walks the fine line between tribute and parody, and it hits almost every note I’d expect, boldly (and more-or-less successfully) casts a couple noteworthy actors outside of their typical type of role, and even throws in a half-decent twist towards the end. It’s a movie that I’ve been meaning to see ever since I first heard about it, and yet, now that I’ve finally seen it, I can’t help but think that I wasn’t missing much.

Seth Rogan provides the voice for the title character a short green alien nicknamed Paul, he’s the title character but the movie isn’t really about him, he gets a bunch of the jokes, but he’s really about half-way between the film’s MacGuffin and a postmodern Marty Stu.

The film is really about Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) a couple of English uber-geeks who we encounter as they begin their great American vacation. Starting at San Diego ComicCon they strike out on a road trip to all the famously mysterious and allegedly alien visted sites in the Southwest. Not long into the trip they encounter Paul, and hilarity ensues as he persuades the duo to help him escape from the authorities. Along the way they’re perused by hard-nosed Federal Agent Zoil (Jason Bateman), and a host of others who they (inadvertantly) cross in the course of their journey.

The film was fun, though probably a good measure more crude than it needed to be. There were some moments I enjoyed tremendously (a honkey-honk roadhouse where the band is is playing an country arrangement of the Star Wars cantina theme), but there were also some things I found silly, (Paul has one particular alien “power” that once its introduced effectively tells you exactly what’s going to happen in the film’s climax).

On balance Paul was essentially what I thought it’d be. Really, it so closely matched the movie I’d conceived in my head after seeing the trailer that actually watching the movie was a little bit pointless. It was fun, but when a movie is aiming, at least in part, for “shocking” humor, it’d help if it were at least surprising. Still, it’s got some nice moments. Also, Jason Bateman’s fine portrayal of a hard-assed character that you spend most of the film actively routing against was refreshing. On the whole, it’s certainly Worth Seeing.

[Paul (2011) – Director: Greg Mottola  – Rated R for language including sexual references, and some drug use]

OM|ED Rating: Worth Seeing