Review: Paul (2011)

Meet Paul, the bird-eating, weed smoking extra terrestrial...

Paul, a bird eating, weed smoking extra terrestrial (who just happens to share an uncanny similarity to Seth Rogen), causes friction between Brit uber-geeks Clive (Nick Frost) and Graeme (Simon Pegg) after he seeks refuge with them in the middle of their U.S. Road trip…

Branded by all quarters as Superbad-meets-Shaun of the Dead, Paul transcends several cinematic genres. Successfully unifying sci-fi nerdiness and toilet humour, Paul grew from an idea germinated on the set of the afore-mentioned brit-com. Although the film benefits from having been penned by one of Britain’s favourite comedy duos (who unite behind the camera for the first time here), it falls short thanks to its missing link (a Mr. Edgar Wright).

The concept is simple; Paul crash-landed on Earth way back in 1947 and has since been hushed up by the American government who plan to harbour the medicinal benefits his body promises. Cue Paul’s bid for freedom where he accidentally bumps into Pegg and Frost who inadvertently find themselves harbouring a fugitive. The situation snowballs and soon the trio find themselves accompanied by the one-eyed Ruth (Kristen Wiig) with several different parties hot on their trail.

The friendship Pegg and Frost share in the film differs from the duo’s previous on-screen encounters and the film visibly suffers. Being rather too likeable, Clive and Graeme are regularly over-shadowed by the brilliant Paul and the gay jokes that surround their relationship soon become wearisome. Paul’s harsh fate jars somewhat with the rather humorous tone of the film and the chasm is merely filled with visual gags. When religion enters the mix it is easily swept aside when Paul works his magic and makes miracles happen leaving faith to become mockery fodder.

Although flawed, the script is impeccable in its filmatic references. Promising to satisfy both sci-fi geeks and film lovers alike, expect the likes of Back to the Future, Alien and, of course, Spielberg classics E. T. and Close Encounters to crop up. Support comes in the form of the ever likeable Bill Hader, Blythe Danner and Jason Bateman whilst there is a hugely enjoyable cameo that shouldn’t be missed.

Although sometimes a little predictable, Paul is undoubtedly fun to watch nonetheless. It may not quite capture the brilliance of its forefathers Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead but it shows Pegg and Frost’s adaptability for screens over the pond – even if the transfer is made at the cost of a few witty one liners. Paul is true Pegg and Frost… just not as we know it.

Best bit: Where Paul reacts to getting his ‘spaceman balls’ squeezed…
Best performance: Rogen as Paul.
Watch this if you liked: Men in Black, Shaun of the Dead, Superbad
Worst hair: It’s a toughy but it has to be Nick Frost’s Clive.

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