Saturday, 26 February 2011

'Paul' Review

'Paul' (dir: Greg Mottola, 2011), Cert: 15

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the inseparable pair, return to our screens in an American feature directed by the wonderful Greg Mottola (‘Superbad’ (2007), ‘Adventureland’ (2009)). ‘Paul’ contains some big names in comedy and its title character is a foul-mouthed alien, what’s not to love?
 Graeme Willy (Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Frost) are two British comic book geeks who head to America to visit the annual Comic-Con convention. The pair then set out on a tour of the United States stopping off at all ‘alien sighting and landings’ destinations. On a long stretch of open road past Area 51, the pair witness a huge car crash, and from out of the burning ruins comes Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen). Paul is a drug-smoking, potty-mouthed alien who is desperate to return to his home planet after being held in captivity in Ares 51 for hundreds of years. Graeme and Clive reluctantly agree to help Paul and in doing so open up a whole new chapter of their American adventure.
 What audiences expect from a film like this is big laughs that are consistent, and that’s exactly what they will receive. ‘Paul’ is frequently hilarious and is a sheer pleasure to watch, but to much surprise, the majority of the laughs aren’t from Pegg and Frost. It’s Rogen who provides the crux of the comedy and the cavalcade of comedians and ‘Saturday Night Live’ stars which act as the supporting cast including Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Joe Lo Truglio, Sigourney Weaver and Jane Lynch (‘Glee’s Sue Sylvester).
 Pegg and Frost have their usual charming chemistry but they seemed a little out of their depth here. They were funny enough to keep the ball rolling and they bounced off of the other cast members nicely, but at points they seemed far too dependant on Rogen’s voicing to get the scene started, but then again this doesn’t really matter that much because Paul is such a brilliant character and Rogen’s voice is the perfect compliment to him.
Still from 'Paul' (dir: Greg Mottola, 2011)

 This is not up there with Pegg and Frost’s best, nor is this Motolla’s finest hour, but ‘Paul’ has enough to keep you giggling and joyful throughout. The dialogue is edgy and fast-paced, the action is comical and playful, and its underlining themes of Religion vs. Evolution are side-splitting. It also contains nice little quirks which keep you smiling including one great scene with Paul talking to Steven Spielberg in which he gives him the idea for ‘E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial’ (1982).
 The performances are good, especially Rogen which I’ve already mentioned, and Bateman who is brilliant as the sharp-talking and quick-witted Special Agent Lorenzo Zoil. Hader and Lo Truglio are also very funny together as the budding cops Haggard and O’Reilly, and Wiig is as wonderful as ever as Ruth Baggs; a woman with strict Christian values who discovers the art of swearing. Lynch’s cameo is also enjoyable, she plays Pat Stevenson; a cafe worker near Area 51 who creates Sci-Fi based coffees.
 So for the most part ‘Paul’ is a success and a great comedy to see for some much-deserved stress relief. Its characters are great, its story is amusing and its quirky running jokes will bring a childish smile across your face.

Hugely entertaining, laced with silly humour and it contains the coolest alien to grace the silver screen in a long time.
By Chris Haydon

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