A love letter to both Spielberg sci-fi films and the nerds that love them, Paul is the type of film that sneaks up on you. You watch the trailer and say to yourself, “Yeah, that might be interesting,” without ever connecting the dots that the screenwriters and director are responsible for some of your favorite films of the past decade.
A Close Encounter
Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost) have dreamed of coming to America and attending the San Diego Comic Con their entire lives. Finally making the trek to the States, they decide to rent a RV and travel across the Southwest, visiting UFO hotspots. While parked on the side of a deserted road, they witness a crash. Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) has just escaped from a government facility and is trying to make his way to a rendezvous spot where he will be picked up by the mothership. Hot on his trail is the dangerous Agent Zoil (Jason Bateman).
The film was written by stars Pegg and Frost, returning to their genre loving ways after starring in the underappreciated Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. While it would have been easy to cram the script full of jokes at the expense of nerds, they decided to accept these guys for who they were. The film opens at San Diego Comic-Con and, amazingly, there is not one lazy joke to be found. They also use this setting to mine the jokes that can be found in the sci-fi novel business. In roughly five minutes of screentime, they manage to produce more laughs on the subject than the horrible Gentleman Broncos did during an entire film.
I do have a couple of issues with the film, however. Kristen Wiig is introduced halfway through as a love interest for Graeme that joins their party, and while Wiig does a fine job with the material, it is at this point that the film really starts to drag. Of course, it may have more to do with the fact that by the time that Wiig joins the crew it feels like she becomes the 15th character introduced in the film. The movie doesn’t feel like it needed a better editor so much as it feels like the screenplay could have used another draft to cut out some of the dead weight.
All in all, however, Paul is worth your attention this weekend at the theater. If you’re not feeling the basketball tourney and want some laughs, this flick has my seal of approval.