Today: July 18, 2024
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Paul

The two man-boys from Spaced, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, are back
together in another movie, without the third member of the triumvirate,
director Edgar Wright.

Following the success of their brilliant zom-rom-com Shaun of the Dead, and the less impressive cop movie homage Hot Fuzz, the Siren call of Hollywood was inevitable. Wright went on to make comicbook adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs The World, which had mixed success and was marred by a miscast lead. Pegg and Frost, on the other hand, have continued doing what they do best
– buddy movies based around their favourite genres. The strength of
their films has always come from their chemistry and Pegg’s writing,
which combines great comedy chops with an obsessive knowledge of genre
cinema and geek culture: basically writing about what he knows best. It
was those attributes that made Spaced the cult hit series that it was
and Paul is a return to that form, but with an American spin on it – and
it works. It also helps that, for a US movie, it was directed by Greg Mottola, whose understanding of geek comedy has been amply demonstrated in the hit movies Super Bad and Adventureland.

As Paul is a movie about aliens and comicbook/sci-fi geeks it makes
sense that it should be set in the US. Not only is Comic-Con the world’s
biggest geek fest, making it an appropriate place to start, it is also
more obsessed with UFOs and aliens than most other countries – and there
is the mythical Area 51, which serves as a destination for the pair of
visiting British geeks, whose behaviour is also alien to the locals.

As the pair head on their road trip across the US, in a hired RV, in
search of alien hotspots, they witness a car accident from which emerges
a cigarette-smoking, shorts-wearing alien called Paul (voiced by the
gruff, deep throat of Seth Rogen). Paul convinces the pair that
his life is in danger because the government has come to the end of
their use with him and he needs to escape. The trio are soon being
pursued by man in black Special Agent Zoil (Jason Bateman), and a
pair of less-than-competent agents. Along the way the trio of fugitives
inadvertently kidnap a young fundamentalist Christian (Kristen Wiig), whose faith in the word and creationism is soon shattered.

Even on a superficial level, as a romantic, road movie, which happens to have a foul-mouthed, stoner alien,
this film is great and filled with the type of humour that we have seen
from Mottola in the past. What really sets it apart is Pegg/Frost’s
screenplay that is full of visual and vocal gags that reference the
whole history of sci-fi cinema. Some of them are obvious (Alien, Close
Encounters), while others are so obscure that only hardcore sci-fi geeks
will pick them up. For those, the film definitely warrants a second or
third viewing, especially when it comes out on DVD/Blu-ray, with
commentaries.

If you’ve enjoyed the other outings of this latter-day geeky Laurel
and Hardy, this is their best yet, even without Wright at the helm. That
might seem like sacrilege to the legion of Shaun fans, and it is in no
way to denigrate it because it is still a brilliant, uniquely British
take on zombie movies, but Paul is a more finely crafted movie with
more universal (pun not intended) appeal and one that US audiences will
better relate to
. Besides, sci-fi is so much more interesting than zombie flicks.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website: thekolsocial.com

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