“Paul” may not be quite up to the standards of the two previous Simon Pegg-Nick Frost comedies (Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz), but it is a very funny movie that treats its subjects – two colossal sci-fi nerds, and the alien they stumble upon during a trek through the “UFO sites” of the southwest – with care and respect.
Pegg and Frost play two sci-fi fanboys from England who are on the trip of their lives – to Comic-Con in San Diego. After they’ve soaked in all there is to see at the convention, they hit the road in order to check out the most famous and most mysterious sites that the southwest has to offer – places like Roswell, New Mexico. Tooling along in their RV, they come across a real live alien, one who’s been on Earth since 1949 and is itching to get home. The alien, voiced by Seth Rogen, has picked up a lot of human habits over the years, most prominently smoking (both conventional and non-conventional weeds) and swearing.
Of course, everyone is after them – the mysterious “Men in Black” (one is a typically deadpan Jason Bateman, another is SNL’s Bill Hader), a couple of good ol’ boys who are looking to avenge the havoc the boys' RV wreaked on their truck, and a bible-thumping crazy old man, looking to get his daughter back. The daughter, played by SNL’s Kristen Wiig, is converted along the way from a chip off the paternal block to someone who quickly develops a liking, with Paul’s help, to the aforementioned vices. I usually can’t stand Wiig, but she’s quite funny here. Once the group is all together the movie becomes a fairly standard chase picture, but with enough funny bits along the way to make the trip a memorable and amusing one.
It’s probably fair to say that one’s enjoyment of “Paul” is proportional to each viewer’s own sense of sci-fi geekdom. There are plenty of nods to classic sci-fi moments – a laugh-out loud funny re-enactment of Kirk’s battle against the Gorn, and a classic moment featuring a hillbilly band playing the “Star Wars Cantina” theme – but if you’re not familiar with such things, your enjoyment of “Paul” will be lessened.
I guess that means I’m a geek – because I thought they were great. In short, it’s another winner for Pegg and Frost.