"There is an alien in the kitchen making bagels and coffee"
Paul doesn't lack for laugh out loud moments, but it wouldn't be unfair to say the entire movie amounts to nothing more than a collection of humorous skits. The writers managed to cram a plethora of sci-fi movie references into the film (aside from the obvious ET gags), and as a geek I loved that, but I can see why some people might be less than impressed by it. At the very least I think every viewer would agree that Pegg and Frost make for a terrific comedy duo, and once again they are in top form. Paul even manages to score a fresh rating on RT, something that seems to be pretty hard to do these days, with an overall 71% score.
The basic gist of the movie is a fairly obvious riff on ET. Two bumbling nerds Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Nick Frost) are on a once in a lifetime trip to states, beginning with a trip to Comic-con and culminating in a road-trip across the U.S. to visit all the UFO related sites. Along the way they encounter friendly, but kinda rude, alien Paul (voiced by Seth Rogan) who is attempting to flee the Government and meet up with some of his buddies for a trip off world. The two Brits agree to help him get to the rendezvous point and wackiness ensues... roll credits.
The Pegg/Frost team once again deliver a solid comedic performance, continuing the easy going fun they began with Shaun of the Dead. Though I admit it took a little bit to get used to seeing Nick Frost with so much hair. It's also nice to see Pegg still doing the roles that started his career, even in the face of his wildly successful take on Scotty in the new Star Trek franchise. Highest praise is reserved for the criminally underused Jeffrey Tambor who played a sci-fi author at the faux Comic-con event. He's becoming quite the scene stealer these days, first Hangover and now Paul. We can only hope to see more of Tambor in the future. Also noteworthy is the performance of Jason Bateman as the hard nosed federal agent attempting to track down Paul, he played it with just the right mix of soicism and slap stick comedy timing.
Quick note on Kristen Wigg too, in the past I've not been a fan of her outrageous Saturday Night Live characters, but in the case of Paul, I actually didn't mind her presence. Another actor in the movie that I've never been particularly taken with is Seth Rogen (granted only his voice appears in this movie). Again I felt that he was really quite well suited to the role, his voice really brought Paul to life, and he seemed to riff off Pegg and Frost well (granted I don't know how authentic that is, since I don't even know if they were in the same room when he recorded his stuff).
Speaking of the cute little CG alien, props to the effects department on that one. He blends in seamlessly with the actors to the point that you actually believe he's right there with them. Which in turn helps with the sense of immersion. Even when he has to physically interact with the environment, like holding hands with the actors or diving through a doorway to avoid gunfire, he always looked like he belonged. So in short, the effects were terrific. We were also treated to more than a few practical effects in the form of car crashes and explosions, which also looked great, so good job all round from the effects guys.
The most controversial element of the movie is likely to center around the treatment of religion. This movie is not particularly friendly when it comes to dealing with religion. The jokes on this subject are really 'in your face' and lack even the smallest shred of subtlety. Now personally I thought the jokes were pretty funny, but I'm not a particularly religious person. I can certainly see how some folks would be offended by the movies portrayal of religious people, and I accept that. Clearly those jokes were not written with such viewers in mind, I'm not going to comment on what the intention of the writers was or was not. I will simply say I thought it was funny, if you're a deeply religious person, you might think otherwise.
Overall I thought the movie was very well paced, it presented a somewhat typical chase movie, but I think Pegg, Frost and Rogan were strong enough to carry it on the strength of their acting. Combine that with some terrific supporting actors and cameos and you've really got something. The effects were great, the plot kept me interested and the characters were fun to watch. I'll most certainly be picking up the unrated version on DVD.
Final Verdict on Paul: