The second I saw this movie was coming out, I got really excited. I’ve seen Simon Pegg’s show Spaced, I’ve seen both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, this was just gonna be another winner to add to the list. Not quite. It was quite good, but this had a different feel to it than the other Pegg/Frost collaborations did. Paul is not quite the movie you’d expect from these two, but it had all the things that Simon Pegg loves: Star Wars and aliens.
Paul is the story of an alien (Seth Rogen) who comes crashing (or exploding rather) into Graeme Willy’s (Simon Pegg) and Clive Gollings’ (Nick Frost) lives. On a road trip around America after Comic Con, Graeme and Willy find that the alien trip they planned through the midwest would be more real than they could ever imagine. Getting into trouble one after another, Graeme and Clive meet an all-star cast along the way in what I could only describe as England vs. America with E.T.
First things first. ACTING. Yes, this movie has quite an extensive cast with cameos and guest stars all over the place. First we got Jeffrey Tambor (Yes, Arrested Development. Best.) as Shadowchild, a sci-fi writer with an ego and O.C.D. problem. Jane Lynch as the alien truck-stop waitress who pops in and out from time to time. David Koechner as the redneck anti-queer (really breaking away from his role as Hannah Montana’s uncle). Jason Bateman as the surly F.B.I. agent out to get Paul (quite funny), along with Bill Hader (one of my favorite SNL guys) and Joe Lo Truglio as the bumbling idiot agents who kind of mess everything up but are quite funny. Also Kristen Wiig (annoying) but actually not that bad in this film. I’ve always found she’s more bearable in films than SNL.Yes, that’s quite a laundry list of actors that have the potential to make a movie funny. Bravo.
This movie is also a break directing wise from the usual. Instead of the great Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. How amazing.) we have Greg Mottola (Superbad and Adventureland. Two terrible one word movies.) This really disappointed me. A lot. It gave a different feel to the movie that, frankly, wasn’t all that good at all. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost work well together with other English actors. A lot of the humor in this movie comes from the supporting cast. This saddens me. That’s what made Shaun and Hot Fuzz so great. Edgard Wright (He failed at Scott Pilgrim. Check my blog.), English supporting cast, with Pegg and Frost as the driving forces behind the comedy. Bad form.
But that’s not to say this movie isn’t that good. It has its own genuine feel to it that is still quite funny. All of the supporting cast is quite funny American actors. It’s written by Simon and Nick. It’s their brainchild. The thing that ruins it for me is it doesn’t have the choppy, sporadic, English humor you come to expect from them. You could say that’s probably because it’s not Edgar Wright driving the project from behind the camera. Sad, I know, but still.
I was also surprised how sub par the special effects were in this movie. Maybe it was to give it an E.T. feeling, but maybe it’s just the production value that lacked in the making of the film. Paul wasn’t as real looking as I expected for a 2011 film, the spaceship and such felt unrealistic. The stunts were fine, it was just everything else that threw off the movie for me. Maybe another thing that affected me was my movie watching experience. It wasn’t the audience, it was the theater (Thanks, Regal Cinemas 14). The projection was out of wack, all of the lettering in the film was hard to look at. The lights came on in the theater 30 minutes before the movie was over. It kind of ruined it for me. But besides that, the movie was good (Wow, I just complained a lot…)
I still think this movie is worth watching. If you’re ever in the mood for a pretty good alien comedy, please see this movie. Simon and Nick need all the support they can to become really big in America, and I know they already kinda are, but they need everybody behind them to help Americans realize that they’re just as good as actors are here. (Certainly better than Matthew McConaughey or Brad Pitt. Come on… Although Lincoln Lawyer might be good…) So please go see Paul. It’s definitely worth a watch. 7.8 out of 10.