Paul Movie Review
Graeme and Clive (Pegg and Frost) are sci-fi geeks who realise their dream to drive a Winnebago across the American Southwest visiting UFO hotspots to re-enact favourite movie and TV scenes. Then they stumble across an actual alien named Paul (voiced by Rogen as an Alf-style wisenheimer). They agree to help him get home, but are hotly pursued by a tenacious Man in Black (Bateman) and two X-Files agents (Hader and Lo Truglio). They are also joined by someone who's even more alien to them: devout one-eyed creationist Ruth (Wiig), who Paul calls a "God-bothering cyclops".
Pegg and Frost maintain the earthy humour of their earlier films, with constant gags that are delivered with impeccable timing. And Mottola assembles the film beautifully, maintaining a brisk pace while allowing the characters to develop in surprising ways. The plot is essentially a mash-up of E.T. and Close Encounters, with a continual barrage of nods to the genre. Some are extremely subtle, but most are broad or random.
One problem is that a late appearance from sci-fi icon Weaver reminds us of Galaxy Quest, a genre comedy that used original humour to augment the spoof elements. Pegg and Frost, on the other hand, hang everything on their fanboy credentials, as each scene (and rather a lot of dialog) is a play on another film. Besides the work of Steven Spielberg there's also, of course, rather a lot of Star Trek and Star Wars, including a particularly witty use of the Cantina Bar theme.
Ultimately, what wins us over is the terrific chemistry between Pegg and Frost; Graeme and Clive are so hilariously inseparable that most people think they're a gay couple. Naturally, they need to inject a rather sweet rom-com into the plot to make sure we know they're not. Fortunately, this gives Wiig the film's best role. On the other hand, Danner's foul-mouthed appearance only reminds us that most of the jokes are of the relatively cheap variety. Not that this keeps us from laughing.
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