Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Directed by Greg Mottola.
2011. Rated R, 104 minutes.
Simon Pegg
Nick Frost
Seth Rogen
Kristen Wiig
Jeffrey Tambor
Jane Lynch
Jason Bateman
Sigourney Weaver
Bill Hader
Blythe Danner
John Carroll Lynch

The writer Graeme Willy (Frost) and his trusty cohort Clive Gollings (Pegg) are a couple of sci-fi geeks from the UK, in the United States to attend Comic-Con, an annual convention for the comic book industry. Afterwards, they tour some of the locations where famous UFO landings have allegedly taken place, like Area 51 and Roswell, New Mexico. Along the way, as luck would have it, they meet Paul (Rogen). Paul is the classic little green man with an enormous head alien. He enlists our less than dynamic duo to help him get home. All the while, the trio is being chased by man in black, Agent Zoil (Bateman). Zoil maintains almost constant contact with “The Big Guy”, whom we find out right away is actually a woman. What she actually looks like isn’t revealed until the end, so I won’t spoil it.

Eventually, the plot becomes reminiscent of E. T. This is fitting given that Pegg and Frost wrote the screenplay. Like their movies Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead before it, we’re treated to a steady stream of references to other movies. They’re done far more skillfully than in any of the “____ movies.” You know the ones: Scary, Date, etc. These references are weaved seamlessly into the tapestry of a story that stands on its own. We can actually enjoy the story we’re watching and enjoy the allusions. By the way, there are enough of them that you’ll probably miss a few, here and there.

References to other movies aren’t the only things that make us laugh. The way relationships are established and carried out are both funny and sweet. Most notably, the contentious nature of things between Graeme and Paul gets the most giggles. As stated by Paul, the two are characters that should be best friends but seem to be missing a connection. Even more of an edge is added when you factor in the lingering question of Graeme’s sexuality. Because of that question, the way he behaves in regards to others give us cause to pause.

In the title role, Seth Rogen acquits himself very well. True, Paul behaves much like most of Rogen’s characters but he’s easier to take when personifying another species. However, there could’ve been more to him. How did he get to be the foul-mouthed, cigarette smoking wise guy we know him to be?

Paul is a fun ride, overall. There are some stretches where it drags a bit. Occasionally, it gets too busy referencing other movies that it doesn’t quite work. Aside from the aforementioned stars, Jason Bateman was also very good as the agent tracking them down. Things are fairly predictable, but we’re not here for mystery. It wants you to laugh and possibly geek out with them on all the allusions you recognize. It does that.

MY SCORE: 7/10

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