Directed By: Greg Motolla
Written By: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, the voice of Seth Rogen, Kristin Wigg, Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Blythe Danner, and a slew of cameos worth the surprise
Director of Photography: Lawrence Sher, Editor: Chris Dickens, Production Designer: Jefferson Sage, Original Music: David Arnold
Creating alien beings for films has made for some of the most unique and glorious creatures in our culture. The double-mouthed, gigantic and sleek black monster of Alien, the cute and cuddly brown midget of E.T., and the hairy beast that will always beat all other hairy beasts—Chewbacca. And then there’s the titular character of Paul. Gray-color skinned, with a large head, and fashioning slacker shorts and sandals, Paul is perhaps the strangest character of the bunch, especially when you consider he is voiced by Seth Rogen. But a stoner, pop culture obsessed alien fits perfects in the world of Paul, which is more or less a stoner road trip movie.
What makes Paul different from the world of Superbad (Directed by Paul’s helmer Greg Motolla) or the like is that it has a sci-fi element, and its extremely nostalgic toward some of the classics of the genre, including but not limited to Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Predator. And what makes Paul a decently enjoyable, if not perfect ride, is the nostalgia and heart at the center of this comedy.
The film’s protagonists come from a very different world—Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, known for their UK comedies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Those comedies, directed by Edgar Wright, have a much more manic tone than the more laid back feeling Mr. Motolla creates, though the film hits a similar chord by being an amalgamation of homage and parody Mr. Pegg and Mr. Frost, who also wrote the script, play a couple of comic geeks who travel from the Queen’s kingdom to Comic-Con in San Diego before heading on a road trip across the desert for all the alien hot spots. But suddenly, Paul joins them in their RV, as he runs from the government in a hope to get back to the Andromeda galaxy.
The script, as well as Mr. Motolla’s direction, takes its time in letting us basically have a buddy comedy about three friends (and a Bible-loving gal who joins, played by the inexplicably wondrous Kristin Wiig) all trying to find themselves in the big old universe. The film is chock full of great character actors (Jason Bateman as a secret service agent, Bill Hader as a out-of-the-know cop) and make for some amusing scenes. But the heart of this sometimes over-long movie is the numerous references that make for some perfect humor (many in the form of perfect cameos), and the genuine emotions that these three characters form.
Paul is by no means a masterpiece, nor is it a spectacularly funny movie. But it’s an enjoyable ride that makes you wish you could spend time with a couple of comic geeks, and their little green friend.