Awhile back, a few relatives of mine asked me to review a movie whose plot consisted of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost running into an alien voiced by Seth Rogen. “Uh, sure.” I replied. Paul is directed by Greg Mottola, and written by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Stars-Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, and Seth Rogen. Premise-Two fantasy geeks go on a road trip to visit Sci-Fi Conventions across America. However, when a trash-talking alien wearing pants crosses their path, plans will have to be changed.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the comedy/writing. Honestly, it’s not the best. Some jokes come off more as awkward or juvenile, rather than funny. Most of the comedic timing actual comes from the actors. Pegg is (as always) hilarious, Frost’s personality fits his character precisely (and he has great chemistry with Pegg), Bateman plays a clichéd government agent very well (while somehow being able to deliver some knee-slapping one-liners), and Kristen Wiig was definitely the funniest. Her character (which I’ll get to in a bit) gave way to many hilarious situations and her talent brought them to life. As for Rogen, he’s just playing the same character yet again: smart-talking, joke-spewing, slow to the punch guy who acts like a really immature teenager.
The story itself is a mixed bag for me. What I mean by that, is that the actual plot (getting the alien back to his planet) isn’t nearly as entertaining as watching Pegg and Frost interact with their surroundings while cracking jokes. Because of this, the movie is much longer than it needs to be (about 20 minutes). Another problem with the story is its overabundance of characters. Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to well-written characters, “The more the merrier” I say. However, in order to succeed in doing that, you need: talented writer(s), and lots of time to develop them (e.g. Lord of the Rings, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Star Wars, etc.). Most comedies don’t focus on the plot as much as they do jokes (you know, because it’s a comedy), therefore, their runtime usually doesn’t go over 90 minutes. However, because the sci-fi part of this movie is so prominent, it forces the writers to spend more time on explaining how an alien ended up on the side of the street (the same mistake The Watch made). I count at least three characters who had next to no development and could have easily been cut from the movie altogether. Another problem I have with the story is its moral center. Essentially, it’s an anti-Christianity preach fest. Despite being a Christian, I don’t have as much a problem with the writers attempting to teach that message (everyone can choose what they want to believe); what I do have a problem with is their, “shove it down your throat method” of teaching that message. I think Jeremy Jahns said it best, “Anyone can agree, whatever your opinion is, if you cram it down people’s throats, no one likes it.” True dat. One thing I was not expecting from this movie was an abundance of sci-fi pop culture references! I mean it, there are so many references in this movie that will send your nostalgia meter off the charts and give you an epic fanboy freak out.
Although Paul doesn’t hold up against other Simon Pegg films, it’s still a mostly enjoyable ride. Hilarious performances, many cool references, and some enjoyable humor keep it from being the worst. Paul gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a B-.