“It’s Probing Time”
Released: 14th February 2011
Running Time: 104 minutes
Director: Greg Mottola
Writers: Nick Frost and Simon Pegg
Born from a few ideas that were scribbled during the filming of “Shaun of the Dead“,its no wonder that “Paul” evokes the same sense of geeky fun and social parody as the 2004 zom-rom-com. With the same stars (and now writers), Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, at the helm its easy to make comparisons between the two films. However, what “Shaun” lacked in the action-adventure department, “Paul” certainly makes up for in bucket loads – and this could be thanks to the $46,000,000 budget increase.
Graeme Willy (Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Frost) are nerdy best friends on a road trip of some of America’s notorious UFO black spots. So what could top such a trip of a lifetime than stumbling upon an actual alien? Paul (sluggishly voiced by Seth Rogen) is not only a remarkable feat in merging computer animated characters with real life actors (for a contrast, see the abysmal “Yogi Bear“, 2010) but is also a secret little scene stealer, and one finds yourself forgetting that he is not actually a real alien… After agreeing to harbor Paul from the forces of government evil that are chasing him, the trio set out on the open road in their rented RV to an undisclosed destination. But this won’t be an easy ride, and the first speed-bump along the road is the little problem of the Christian they have just kidnapped…
As is the case with many films, the key to their success and appeal is a roll call of oddball characters with unique personalities, all played by talented character actors – and whilst on the run Paul and the gang bump into an eclectic mix of some of the finest OSCAR, Golden Globe and Emmy nominated actors the Guild can provide. As for the oddball characters, we have a lesbian waitress, a one eyed Christian, a couple of bumbling FBI agents, a weed growing granny and two rednecks straight from the forests of “Deliverance”. What could possibly go wrong?
Well actually… nothing. The main portion of the film delivers just the perfect blend of laughs, film references and high octane action that it’s impossible to ever get bored during this film. This could be viewed as the only negative aspect of this film, that it is just too plain and “safe”. There is no attempt to divert from the “norm”, and this is perhaps due to Pegg and Frost wanting to make sure the film is a success.
There are a couple of particularly fast paced moments where you’ll find yourself manoeuvering from the slouched position in your chair, so you can get a better view of the action. What most impresses the viewer is that “Paul” does not try to be something it is not. Too many films nowadays become arrogant and lost in their own script, and they presume the audience possess the ability to understand a disjointed story with convoluted ‘comedic’ characters (such as any Adam Sandler film, that presumes everyone understands his sense of comedy, or lack thereof). This film does not require you to remember a joke you heard five scenes earlier in order to understand the most recent one.
As the ever increasing bundle of misfits on board the RV head deeper into the American midwest the plot becomes even more diluted with bizarre set-ups and tense action scenes. A close encounter in a comic book store provides a highlight in the action comedy department, and a shoot out in an isolated farmhouse round off the second act of the film.
Cue a “Cannoball Run” style car chase and you’ve got the beginning of one of the best endings to a film ever. With the entrance (and amazingly unexpected exit) of one of Hollywood’s most famous action heroines, a fist fight with Gwyneth Paltrow’s mom, a bewildering twist and a resurrection, the ending delivers a satisfying and exhausting finale to a quirky little road trip film.
With huge amounts of “Star Wars” references (100 Geek points if you can name the song playing in the bar fight scene) and just the right amount of ‘bromance’, this is the perfect movie to leave any Fanboy or Alien with a giant grin on their faces for hours after the film has finished.