One of the best ways to watch a movie is by disliking it in advance. It is better to get your bad expectations proven wrong than your good ones. So here’s about Paul. I expected a kind of Superbad, but this time with an alien. Superbad was simply bad. Like many of its counterparts (and like almost every female pop singer’s career) it tried to be daring and naughty at first, but it the end it turned out to be moralistic and clichéd.
I had to know that with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as writers and male leads it had to be different this time. Then again, even though I loved Shaun of the Dead I had my doubts with Hot Fuzz, which was a bit stretched out to entertain on the long haul. But after parodying zombie horror and action flicks, this spoof on probably every scifi flick from the last thirty years is very entertaining indeed. Sarcastic Assault Expectations versus Paul: 0-1.
In the story the two British übernerds Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) visit the Mekka we know as the San Diego Comic Con and after that they complete their dream by venturing into American UFO country. While they are driving from the Nevada desert to New Mexico (that’s right, from Area 51 to Roswell) in their rented RV, an alien quite literally crashes his identified driving object (yes, a car) into their lives. His name is Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) and he has escaped from a sixty year imprisonment in an American military base nearby.
Only one of the nerds faints and wets his pants. After overcoming the shock they have to drive Paul through the desert while being tailed by the men in black, lead by Jason Bateman in yet another great role. They also kidnap a religious girl by accident. Her father comes chasing them too and if that wasn’t bad enough: Paul seems to be alien in body only, his knowledge of human swear words and his liking towards Reese’s Pieces (remember ET?) make him seem annoyingly human.
The set up of this film leaves no joke untold and while many a director or actor can’t handle a constant output of humour, Pegg and Frost seem to pull it off effortlessly. Sure not every pun is funny but all the more are. All this joking marks for a high pace with little room for morale and cheesy breaks. The few breaks that remain fit perfectly into the greater picture of parody. Obviously the two Brits have seen their share of films and they know how to spoof them.
They especially know Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Close Encounters and ET from inside out as they cite them endlessly, but not tiring. Spielberg even features in the film while Paul is giving him advice for making alien movies from the Raiders of the Lost Ark storage bunker. It is way cooler to spot all the other references yourself than it is for me writing them here and they are not that hard to spot anyway. One last thing: is Sigourney Weaver a reference (to) herself, or is she simply an actress in a supporting role? Try to bend your brain around that one. ‘Both’ is not an option.
Paul could have been a wannabe spoof flick, but because Pegg and Frost know their stuff it isn’t. Their geekiness rubs off. It’s cool to be a geek anyway, right? I have little trouble admitting that I am one (erh, well… sometimes… you know, only when watching films and… shut up, I can be cool if I want to) and even though the core of this film will appeal to nerds mostly it is built to entertain a broader audience for sure. And it’s rated R, f**k yeah!
This article was rated PG13 by the MPAA.