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August 2011

Paul

cast: Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, and Bill Hader

director: Greg Mottola

109 minutes (15) 2010
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Universal DVD Region 2

RATING: 8/10
review by J.C. Hartley

Paul

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg's first outing cut adrift from Nick Wright doesn't have the same darkness and sophistication of Shaun Of The Dead, or Hot Fuzz, but it's their own thing and a delightful homage to Spielberg, replete with SF movie references and geeky treasures.

Comicbook writer Clive Gollings (Frost) and pal Graeme Willy (Pegg) go to Comic Con in San Diego before setting off on a road-trip to take in various important UFO sites such as the so-called 'black mailbox'. After a run-in with stock rednecks, beloved of the innocents abroad in America story, and denting their vehicle, the English pair are passed on the road at night by a speeding car which leaves the road in a spectacular crash. Investigating, Clive and Graeme discover the driver to be an alien, the eponymous Paul (Seth Rogen).

Paul is a telepath and has the ability to restore life to dead things. He is on the lam from Area 51 where, like the famous J-Rod of conspiracy theory fame, he has been a prisoner since 1947, supplying technological and cultural information (including advice to Spielberg regarding ET). Having fulfilled his purpose, the powers that be now intend to cut off his head to extract stem cells.

Soon the trio are on the run from the FBI in the shape of Agent Zoil (Jason Bateman) - yes his first name is Lorenzo, and the comic relief, agents Haggard and O'Reilly. Paul has managed to signal his own people and they are on the way to pick him up, and anyone familiar with Close Encounters Of The Third Kind will guess where.

After hiding out at a trailer park, the trio inadvertently kidnap Ruth (Kristen Wiig) a fundamentalist Christian raised in an environment of repression by her crazy dad. Ruth's encounter with Paul challenges her whole conception of the universe and her response peppering ordinary speech with obscenities provides some of the funniest stuff in the film.

The film zips along at a decent pace, much of the success of the story probably depends on a positive response to the Frost and Pegg dynamic, if you hate them then you might hate this. Some of the jokes are obvious, such as everyone assuming the pair are gay, and there is a surfeit of Speilbergian sentimentality at the end, but then it's a homage, after all. This is pretty good for SF fans and anyone who's seen a blockbuster by Spielberg or Lucas in the last 30-odd years (good grief, is it really that long?).

The DVD presentation has various making-of featurettes, director and star commentaries, blooper reels, trailers, Pegg's silly faces, and a profile of the invented comicbook writer Adam Shadowchild played by Jeffrey Tambor (Hellboy) in the film.



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