Paul (2011)

I hope that if aliens do exist, that there more like this dude.

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg star as two science-fiction freaks who, while on a quest to discover what lies at the heart of Nevada’s infamous Area 51, cross paths with an alien (voice of Seth Rogen) on the run from earthly authorities.

Looking at a cast like this, a premise like this, and a director like this, you would be expecting the funniest thing in years. However, it’s just pretty funny.

The screenplay that was written by Frost and Pegg has some good moments of humor that aren’t what I was expecting from these two, but that isn’t such a bad thing. The comedy is more broad for an American comedy, rather than the smart wit and cleverness of some of the British comedies that these two have been a part of.

My problem with this film was that it wasn’t funny enough, and I think the main reason why that is, is because of the non-stop sci-fi references. Maybe for me, since I’m not a huge science fiction dude, I didn’t get a lot of the references that they were using here, but at the same time they put way too many jokes to a certain crowd and almost abandon everybody else who isn’t familiar with these references. They seem to also be satirizing geek culture with this film, and although it can be cute at some times, it just doesn’t seem all that fun if you don’t get what their saying. Also, the film isn’t as daring with it’s jokes like I was expecting, because there are times where this does get a little bit predictable, and I just wish I had more times where I laughed my ass off, instead of a chuckle here and there.

Director Greg Mottola is a good director for this work because he does a great job of blending comedy, action, and a tad bit of sweetness to the story that actually works and doesn’t come off as fake at all. This isn’t like Superbad where all three worked so well, but for the most part he does a good job of keeping us watching and being entertained.

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg as you could already tell, do well together. They have that great buddy chemistry going on well and has us believe them as these two sci-fi geeks. What really stands out in Paul is, well, Paul. Seth Rogen is fantastic here as Paul, because he’s not really doing anything different, he’s just playing Seth Rogen, and Seth Rogen always has me laughing. I didn’t look at Paul and see a piece of CGI like I often do, but as a real character. From a technology standpoint, the mo-cap is obviously not as groundbreaking or impressive as Avatar, but Rogen made the character convincing without any of that fancy expensive shit.

There are also others in this impressive cast that do amazing especially Kristen Wiig, who plays Ruth, the little Christian. There is nothing more satisfying to me than to see a hardcore Christian have their faith destroyed and Wiig makes it all the more funny. Jason Bateman is alright as Agent Zoil, even though he’s not really doing anything funny. Sigourney Weaver is bad-ass as The Big Guy, Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio work perfectly as the two cops that can never do anything right, and Blythe Danner does a good job as well.

Consensus: People may not understand many of the many science fiction references that inhabit this film, but they still will get a chuckle out of this sweet, and funny screenplay, with a great cast. However, you do feel that it could have been better given the talent involved.



  1. So glad this film is living up to the standards Pegg and Frost set with Spaced and their films wit Edgar Wright. I’ve heard lots of good things so looking forward to seeing it.

  2. I think this movie is so much more genre than either Superbad or Adventureland – which is kind of the opposite of what you describe, that it’s been watered down for Ameircan audiences. I think if anything, it’s been geeked up for a most specific audience. If you’re part of that crowd, I think this is a really really funny movie, but they have so many of them that a lot will go over non-geek heads. I do think it’s funny enough for the average teenage guy (gold standard of movie demographics) and will be rewatchable forever. Great review explaining what you liked and why it didn’t quite work for you.

  3. I guess I”m one of the lucky ones who get the esoteric comedy of this movie. But then contemporary comedies, whether in film or television, lob off one joke after another in case only fifty percent of them work. Which is good, I guess.

  4. Y’know, for the most part I agree. I was really, really hoping for laugh-out-loud, can’t-stop-laughing type comedy, but I didn’t so much get that. Yep, I did laugh, I enjoyed myself, and it was a fun movie – and I did love the multiple Spielberg and sci-fi references throughout the flick [“Get away from her, you bitch!”] – but it was just funny, not brilliant like, say, HOT FUZZ. So, yeah, it’s funny, just not super funny. Also agree about Paul: awesome digital work, and I didn’t look at Paul as a CG creation but like a good ol’ fashioned character.

    And I also agree wholeheartedly about Wiig’s character and her epiphany. Now THAT subplot I loved and laughed mostly all the time, and her subsequent handling of cussing. Great review!

      • Honestly, concerning the references, I expected MORE from Frost and Pegg. I think the references wouldn’t be so completely obvious if they were able to weave it into the story better, a la HOT FUZZ. FUZZ lampoons and celebrates its intended genre but it doesn’t distract from the story, but instead increases the enjoyment factor.

        PAUL, sometimes, did have that, ‘Look at me! I’m a reference!’ vibe, sadly, I do agree.

  5. Nice review 🙂
    I totally agree with you, this movie is made, in a way, more for an american audience. (Well, I’m not english but I still feel close to the culture). Was expecting something really hilarious but I have to admit the mix between “uk humour” and “american humour” is well made.

  6. I really enjoyed this movie. Like I said, not as good as Shaun of the Dead, maybe slightly less than Hot Fuzz too, but I had a great time watching it. Very funny. You can definitely tell Wright isn’t with them on this though. But that doesn’t make it unenjoyable. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone that has enjoyed this duo’s previous outings together.

    • Wright wasn’t here with them, and you could tell because the jokes weren’t as witty, and it was more of a reference fest rather than an actual tribute to the sci-fi genre. Glad you liked it!

  7. The biggest knock against this film seems to be that it’s not directed by Edgar Wright. There’s a lot of prejudice toward Paul between unfair comparisons between it and Wright’s films with Pegg and Frost, and the bizarre Rogen backlash, which is too bad because it’s a pretty stellar flick that (if nothing else) seems to be increasing Pegg’s and Frost’s visibility here in the States.

  8. I’m looking forward to seeing this (hopefully this weekend or next). I like the way one of my friends put it…Paul is what E.T. would have been if he was a dick…lol

    I just hope that not all the best scenes were in the trailer and it doesn’t seem to be trying too hard. I can’t tell you how many time I see a movie that does one or both of those and it just makes me want to stop watching, y’know?

    Great review, man!

    • Not all the good scenes are in the trailer, but some of them are. That happens a lot lately but this one surprisingly isn’t one of those films. Thanks!

      • yeah, sucks that these days you can watch the best parts of the movie in the trailer, instead of wondering, y’know?

        my fav line has to be the “hrarvesting farts”. first time i heard that, i was rolling on the floor laughing…lol

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