Say hello to my little Alien
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost make movies for movie lovers, not in the sense of vacuous entertainment for those who just want effects and obvious humour but for those whose knowledge of cinema can spot the clever in jokes which litter various scenes. And it is because of this I had concerns about "Paul" because not being the biggest sci-fi fan I was wondering whether I would miss out on much of the humour and be left disappointed. But then I had forgotten something, not only do Pegg and Frost make movies for movie lovers they make sure that the humour works on two levels so that an in-joke still has a pay off for those who aren't big sci-fi fans. And so whether you are a sci-fi geek or not "Paul" works with humour for those who know the ins and outs of Comic Con and Star Trek and just as much humour for those who don't.
Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg - How to Lose Friends & Alienate People) and Clive Gollings (Nick Frost - The Boat That Rocked) are two British comic book geeks who are living the dream having headed to America firstly to attend Comic Con and then take a road trip across America taking in all the important UFO sites. But they don't get very far when they find themselves with an extra passenger, Paul, an Alien who landed on Earth many years earlier and is now on the run from the government having realised that having looked after him for all this time now have no further use for him. If having an Alien with attitude aboard their RV wasn't bad enough they have FBI agents now chasing them, irate red necks and an irate bible bashing father as well when they end up taking his daughter Ruth Buggs (Kristin Wiig) hostage when she sees Paul.
One of the beauties about "Paul" is that it is so simple that anyone can follow as basically it's a road trip movie full of humorous events and accidents. But the humour isn't from cars breaking down or anything which is typical, nope the humour comes from having two British comic book geeks finding themselves heading across America with an Alien as a passenger and the FBI hot on their trail. So what that means is that you get the humour about comic book geeks and their love of all things sci-fi and then you get the humour of the Alien and all the Alien cliches such as Anal probes and phasers set to stun. It's because there is such a blend of humour that even if you miss out on some of the sci-fi in jokes there is plenty of humour which will still have you laughing and yes "Paul" is a genuinely laugh out loud movie. But having said that the actual sci-fi in jokes are also a nicely balanced bunch so whilst some of the mythology over UFO sightings may fly over some people's heads an in joke about Steven Spielberg having got ideas for "ET" from a chat with Paul is fun for everyone.
It's because the humour is so strong and so well mixed that the storyline almost becomes unimportant because you are looking forward to the next joke, the next brilliant Alien gag or shock. And yes there are some shocks in "Paul" as well usually also connected to a scene which is funny at the same time. But although "Paul" is a movie which thrives on being funny it's actually quite an enjoyable story with FBI Agents, irate bible bashing fathers and a couple of rednecks causing Graeme and Clive plenty of issues. And it is the way the storyline builds, drawing in new characters and explaining how are little Alien friend ended up on earth which makes it more than just one joke after another. This may sound incredibly strange but by the time the movie comes to an end you've grown truly fond of Paul in a similar way you grew fond of ET as well. Paul maybe rude, abusive and at times disgusting but he is also strangely loveable.
Maybe I am wrong but because Pegg & Frost make movies for movie lovers you also get a sense that there is a huge part of themselves in this movie. In those opening scenes as we meet them at comic con the sense of awe as we follow them around feels real, only slightly embellished. And equally there enthusiasm as they travel around looking at legendary UFO sites you just get a sense that as teenage geeks they probably planned similar trips. But then on top of this you get that element of being buddies as well and because Pegg & Frost are friends in real life it makes the on screen friendship so much more real. It means that whilst we maybe watching Graeme and Clive we're really watching Simon & Nick.
Whilst there are other characters in "Paul" and there is a surprisingly good cast which includes Sigourney Weaver, Jane Lynch, Jason Bateman and Kristen Wiig to name but a few it is the voice work of Seth Rogen combined with the talented animators who combine to make the wonderful Paul who steal the show. Rogen has such a great sarcastic tone to his voice that everything he says is funny then combined with the clever CGI work just brings Paul to life as a real being. It's because of this and along with Pegg & Frost's brilliant writing that you do end up connecting with the wise ass Paul.
What this all boils down to is that "Paul" is another great movie starring Pegg & Frost taking on the sci-fi genre and creating a comedy for both those who love the sci-fi genre and for those who just love comedy.