Director: Greg Mottola
Screenplay: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost
Producers: Lisa Chasin, Robert Graf
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen,
Duration: 104 Minutes
Talk about a nerds paradise! A comedic sci-fi tribute from the great British duo, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost who previously rocked out the zombie genre (“Shaun of the Dead”) and action cop genre (“Hot Fuzz”) would have to be awesome right? Use director Greg Mottola, who’s responsible for the recent comedic gold of “Superbad” and “Adventureland”. That would be great, right? Throw in supporting work from some of the better comedians out there; Seth Rogen,Jeffrey Tambor, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig. Jane Lynch, Bill Hader,Joe Lo Truglio. That would be a pretty sweet film, right? Right? Right? Turns out not so much. All these wonderful parts make up the sci-fi road trip comedy “Paul” which isn’t without its heart, but somehow is without its funny.
Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) are lifelong British friends embarking on their dream vacation that starts out in the nerds paradise that is the Comic-Con, and continues with a road trip to all UFO hot spots of the southwest. Driving late at night, the two witness a car accident, and when the dust settles, the survivor is a little green alien that looks like the one we’re accustomed to seeing in pop culture. That little green alien is a foul-mouthed, partying, and wise-cracking extra-terestial named Paul, aptly voiced by Seth Rogen. Paul is on the lamb from a government spook played by the usually hilarious Jason Bateman who doesn’t come off with much hilarity in this film. Jason Bateman, who should get the same quality scripts that Paul Rudd gets, shows up in another disappointing film. Paul needs to get back to the spot where he crash landed way back when and garners the help of Graeme and Clive to do so.
Two newbie feds that tag along with Batemen, played by Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio get a few more laughs but not much. Kristin Wiig plays lady-nerd Ruth Bugg, who goes on the run with Graeme and Clive. It’s offensive to me how Ruth’s zealous Christian character is cured from her religious “afflictions” when she meets Paul who’s able to share what he knows telepathically with her. Being one of those wacky Christians myself, I really don’t mind a good ripping on the church crowd but this films jokes are so one sided. Ruth celebrates her new found freedom with figuring out how to swear for the rest of the flick. The cursing becomes a joke that gets old real quick, which is a common problem with “Paul”, just like everyone questioning whether Graeme and Clive are you know...gay or not.
That said, you can’t argue the amazing chemistry that Pegg and Frost have impeccably built up over the years. The humor weirdly misses in this film, but their sweet story telling didn’t. Where multiple sci-fi references from “X-Files”, to “E.T.”, to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” aren’t always as clever as Pegg and Frost's script thinks it is the buddy road trip between the two and their new found crass little space buddy Paul is as sweet as it thinks it is. You do care about these guys, but you just wish they made you laugh a lot more in the process.
You just wish “this” made you laugh a lot more in the process.