What would happen if you got together with a bunch of your closest movie nerd friends to play the board game Scene It but turned it into a feature length film? The answer is you'd have the movie Paul.
This sci-fi comedy starring Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Star Trek) and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) and the voice of Seth Rogen is made for fanboys, by fanboys. That's because the plot of two nerds who find a real alien while touring America's alien attractions and helping him find his way home is full of references to classic (mostly) sci-fi movies. That might have been one of the best things about the movie. Sitting in a theater and playing along with Paul, trying to guess every quote that comes up is almost worth the price of admission itself. Not every single one is eased in there seamlessly, but all of them are funny as hell and worthy of a big belly laugh if you're a movie nerd like me.
But how is the actual movie, you say? Well, it's pretty good but not great. Sad since I was expecting so much more. When Pegg and Frost get together for a film, the results are usually golden. Now add in a cast like Kristen Wiig (SNL, Walk Hard), Jason Bateman (Juno, Dodgeball), Sigourney Weaver (Alien, Galaxy Quest) and many other cameos. That sets the bar pretty high and perhaps that was my fault for doing that.
My enjoyment of this film might have been dampened by my own ideals of its potential. I expected it to be just as good as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. It's not. Not even close. That might be because the director of those two films, Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) didn't do Paul. Instead they got Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland) to stand at the wheel. He did a fine job, but even he didn't raise to the level that Suberbad did. I think that's simply because this script lacks a constant personality. There are times when it's slapstick and dick jokes. Other times it's very heady and cerebral comedy. But there are times when it ventures into preachy material about religion (and I'm on the side of the point they're making) that comes across way out of place and shoehorned in.
Paul is a very funny movie and will satiate the avid movie lover with comedic quotes and references, but as far as your average audience member...the humor will seem a bit alien.
Paul (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: B
Gavin talked to British actor Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Star Trek) about his new movie Paul.