Paul, an alien road-comedy for frat guys
Shaun of the Dead stars hit America for R-rated E.T.
The good news with Paul is that British actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) have re-teamed for a movie. The bad news? It’s directed by Greg Mottola, the dude responsible for Superbad, which means there’s an emphasis on gay jokes and other types of gags aimed at 15-year-old boys.
Here we have Pegg and Frost playing themselves (a couple of Brit nerds), using a San Diego sci-fi convention as a launching pad for a U.S. road trip. Their agenda is to visit the hotspots of UFO lore in their Winnebago rental. But on a desolate stretch of New Mexico highway, they end up taking on board the E.T. title character. Of course, on Paul’s heels is a Man in Black (Jason Batemen) and a couple of rednecks who want to make them squeal like Ned Beatty in Deliverance, or some homophobic nonsense.
Turns out, Paul has been trapped here on the Big Blue since the late ’40s, and now all he wants to do is go home. But since he’s been a guest of the U.S. military-industrial complex all these years, violating his visa marks him for death. Or rendering. Or something. So it’s up to our heroes to get Paul out to a rendezvous with the mother ship.
Paul is no Shaun of the Dead. It hews closer to the Judd “Knocked Up” Apatow stoner sensibility. They’ve even got Seth Rogen on board to provide the voice of Paul.
The script (written by Pegg and Frost) is amusing and clever, but rarely LOL funny. It’s missing something. Maybe it’s a lack of subtext, or maybe it’s that the numerous pop-culture references are content with just being references—rarely subverting them. Or maybe it’s just that Pegg and Frost miss frequent collaborator Edgar Wright. But to be fair, compared to other recent American comedies, this is Blazing Saddles.