Sunday, October 16, 2011

Paul (2011) ***

In “Paul,” nerdy, British comic/sci-fi fans Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost) take their dream vacation to the U.S. to visit Comic-Con, then RV around to different fabled UFO sites. Near a place called the Black Mailbox, they encounter an actual alien, escaped from a government base. The alien, Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), hitches a ride, and the trio find themselves running from government agents (Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Joe Lo Truglio), rednecks, and the crazy father of a girl (Kristen Wiig) whom they accidentally abduct.

I think the key to watching “Paul” is having reasonable expectations. I saw some negative reviews of the movie, and I think those folks may have suffered from looking at the awesome cast list (see above) and thinking, “Whoa! Best. Comedy. Ever!” “Paul” is clearly not the best comedy ever, although with that cast, you couldn’t be blamed for expecting a bit more than you get with this movie. Nick Frost and Simon Pegg wrote it, and it must be said that their script is a rather straightforward, sophomoric, ’80’s-style alien comedy. The all-star comedic cast is so good, however, that the movie is still highly entertaining. The film relies a bit too heavily on bathroom and stoner humor as well as non-stop homages to sci-fi films past, but at the end of the evening it’s a pretty good time. The one caveat is that the portrayal of Kristen Wiig’s character and her father as creepy, fundamentalist Christians is typically over-the-top and will probably offend a lot of people of faith.

There isn’t much more to say about “Paul.” No new ground is broken here. This is a formulaic, but fun comedy with a great cast. Don’t expect the moon, and you won’t be disappointed.

3 stars

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