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Star Ratings

Well good


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Paul Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Monday, 14 February 2011 10:02
Director: Greg Mottola
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Joe Lo Truglio, Bill Hader Sigourney Weaver
Certificate: 15

Remember Galaxy Quest? Now there was a sci-fi comedy with a decent range of fanboy nods and a strong run of laughs. Paul is like that, but without the second bit. That’s not to say Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have lost their likeable charm or sense of humour. They’ve just used those to prop up a lazy script. It’s fun – and occasionally funny – but it’s easy stuff for the duo that feels more scattershot than special.

Clive (Frost) and Graeme (Pegg) are two geeks hitting Comic-Con for the first time. Doing the tour of America's popular UFO hotspots, they jump in an RV and spend two hours driving past signposts for movie references and sci-fi clichés. Tagging along for the ride is Paul (Rogen), a foul-mouthed, dope-smoking, genital-flashing green man, who likes bringing dead birds back to life as much as he does eating them.

It’s a typical bit of bromance, with the three men bonding over campfires and pot while swapping in-jokes. At times it works, at others you feel like you're watching Ocean’s Twelve all over again. Adding in Jason Bateman as an FBI agent makes a huge difference: the Arrested Development star nails the line between deadpan threat and comic presence, a good contrast to Joe Lo Truglio and Bill Hader's bumbling sidekicks. Kristen Wiig joins the fray, too, as a Bible-lover with one eye and an entertaining failure to grasp the basics of swearing.

But the star of the show is CGI Seth Rogen, whose mo-cap performance not only looks great (way better than Jar Jar) but also benefits from the actor’s natural timing and improvised wit. Paul keeps things ticking over, while Adventureland’s Greg Mottola directs with a good eye for Spielberg moments and a keen sense of pace.

Still, this is a slight disappointment for fans. Unlike Shaun of the Dead or even Hot Fuzz, there’s no character development or emotional involvement here. And there aren’t enough big laughs to cover that up completely; a run of anti-creationist quips feels rather out of place. If Pegg and Frost are wearing their spoof structure thin already, you can’t help but await Edgar Wright’s return eagerly – not least because it would bring better action sequences to the mix.

As the in-jokes build up, Paul rumbles amiably along towards the inevitable mother-ship scene and their star cameo’s obvious final gag. It's predictable but you’ll chuckle all the same, because the cast is talented enough to cash in on the script’s best lines. It’s just a shame that there aren’t more of them.

Paul is a string of movie references rather than a movie in itself. Pegg and Frost clearly spent a lot of time going through their DVD collection. They should've been watching Galaxy Quest instead.


A sci-fi send-up that’s as slapdash as Star Wars Episode I, but just amusing enough to get away with it.

Your rating

( 3 Votes )


  • bill hader
  • galaxy quest
  • greg mottola
  • jason bateman
  • joe lo truglio
  • kristen wiig
  • nick frost
  • seth rogen
  • sigourney weaver
  • simon pegg