“Paul” is the new film from director Greg Mottola. Greg is responsible for such films as “Superbad”, “Adventureland”, and one of my personal favorites, “The Daytrippers”. The film was written by Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Seth Rogen, who also star in the picture. The story begins as Clive(Frost) and Graeme(Pegg) have traveled to American in order to meet their favorite science fiction author at Comic Con. An altercation with some local hill-folk at a rest stop leads them to make a hasty get-away in their recreational vehicle. On the highway, the two see a pair of headlights in the horizon and assume it’s the rednecks from earlier. It turns out to be a car, that in-turn crashes in front of them. Stopping to see if everyone was okay, they realize that the drive of the car was actually Paul(Rogen), an alien that’s just escaped government custody. From here, the trio set off on a cross country journey to get Paul back to his home planet.
One of the things that surprised me about this film is that they opted for the R-Rating. Granted, Mottola’s work has been adult oriented for the most part, but it seems like they would have went for the cash-in on this adult homage to the classic film “E.T.”. I still think this would be a fun film to take your children to see. There are several strings of randomly grouped curse words, so it maybe not suitable for the ultra young, but if my son were around 8-10, I would have no problem with him seeing it. There’s no nudity, no extreme gore, just a few F-Bombs, and some sexually suggestive dialog. I still think that this was a cute picture, and could be enjoyed by families that aren’t too stuck up. To be honest, when I saw the trailer, I assumed that it would be a family film. It was surprising to me to hear the language, as they could have easily had a big PG-13 box office turn-out for this affair.
Taking into consideration the bodies of work from both the director, as well as the stars, this is by no stretch of the imagination any of their best work. It would be hard for anything to stack up against Shaun of the Dead, and even Hot Fuzz. Mottola’s most well known film is undoubtedly “Superbad”, though I personally prefer “Adventureland”, as his best “new wave” comedy film. If I were to attempt to make a comparison to anything, it would be to the Kyle Newman directed “Fanboys”. It’s similar in style, as it’s clearly an homage to classic cult films past, and it’s loaded to the brim with pop-culture references. Some recognizable to the casual viewer, and a few nods to those of us that are serious cinema addicts.
I was kind of dreading the film, to be honest. A CGI Alien voiced by Seth Rogen? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a snob, and I am a fan of Rogen’s films. This just seemed like it would be silly to me, though. It was surprisingly entertaining, on several different fronts. It works as an homage, an almost kiddie friendly romp, and an adult themed dick and fart joke comedy. It was fun to seek, and spot the references to other movies-such as the obvious, “E.T.”, but also “Mac & Me”, And even “Aliens”, complete with a running cameo by none-other than Sigourney Weaver. Speaking of Cameos, almost the entire cast is comprised of special guest-stars and cameo performances from some comedy greats. Bill Hader, Jane Lynch, David Koechner, and many more.
I had a fun time with this lighthearted comedy. It was great to see Pegg and Frost back on the screen together, and the back and forth between them and Rogen was highly entertaining. Jason Bateman is also a favorite of mine, and he does a good job at being the cliche’ agent on-the-hunt character. As slim as the film selection is during this time of year, this would definitely be something I would recommend getting out the the theater to see. It’s not the best film of the year, but it’s fun. How often do you get to see a little gray man sit around a camp-fire, get stoned out of his mind, and tell dirty jokes, anyway?