Lowdown: A couple of nerds try to help an alien escape earthly authorities.
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost grew up a lot since I first saw them together in the brilliant series Spaced. Now they’re big time movie stars, with Paul being their third collaboration on the big screen (as far as I can tell) following the brilliant Shaun of the Dead and the funny Hot Fuzz.
This time around the pair depicts a couple of English science fiction nerds whose big dream to visit Comic-Con and follow it up by renting a caravan and visiting famous alien “close encounters” hotspots is coming true. It’s coming true, alright: the two meet a bona fide alien who calls himself Paul (voiced by Seth Rogan) and has an unusually large male sexual organ. That alien is being chased by American authorities (chiefly represented by Jason Bateman), so our geeks can’t help but help. On their way they stumble upon various misadventures, such as the half blind young earth creationist girl (Kristen Wiig) for whom the mere existence of Paul shatters her entire perception of life as she knows it.
The problem with Paul is that it tries to be funny, it tries to be a successful silly action comedy, but it fails. It’s just not that funny, and not even Rogan with his typical style of jokes can do anything about it (if anything, he makes things worse). However, Paul is more than your average E.T. on steroids story: Paul is a homage to science fiction/nerdy culture. When seen in that prism, Paul is a good film that redoes the whole Star Wars themed geeky jokes Frost and Pegg used to do back in Spaced. They’re still good at it, but this time they go further: they pay tribute to much more than Star Wars. Take the character of “the famous science fiction author Adam Shadowchild” as an example: it’s obviously a Terry Pratchett lookalike.
What I liked the most about Paul was its non politically correct attitude. This approach shows in Paul's dealings with the film’s bible thumpers characters and the total disrespect it pays them. It’s great to see a film that’s a skeptic’s delight after years of Hollywood trying to train us to respect belief for belief’s sake.
Best scene: The former believer sees the light through Paul and realizes she can now lead a life of fornification and bad mouthing.
Technical assessment: Below average Blu-ray, with a picture that’s relatively lacking in detail and less than immersive sound.
Overall: Not the funniest comedy ever, but it does have its strengths. 3 out of 5 stars.