Movie Review: Paul
Mrs Lo and I had a chance to see one of the movies I have really been looking forward to, Paul, written by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame, as well as one of my favorite TV comedies ever, Spaced. The one hesitation I had going into the film was that it was directed by Greg Mottola (who did Superbad) as opposed to longtime Pegg and Frost director/collaborator Edgar Wright (who directed all of the above as well as the most excellent Scott Pilgrim vs. the World). Paul also marks Pegg and Frost’s first foray as writing partners (SOTD and Hot Fuzz were both Pegg/Wright collaborations). With the change in director/writing team and the need to appeal to a wider audience based on Paul’s reported $50 million dollar budget, I feared that Pegg and Frost might dumb down the quirky humor and satire that characterized both SOTD and Hot Fuzz.
I’m happy to report that my fears were mostly unfounded, as Paul is as smart and entertaining a film as you are likely to see this year. And while I would have love to have seen what touches that Edgar Wright would have brought to the movie, the film certainly doesn’t suffer from Mottola’s direction, nor from the casting of Seth Rogan as the voice of the CGI title character, a foul mouthed, stoner alien who is on the run from the US government. Rogan is basically doing himself here, but he fits the character well and the CGI creation is top notch, blending seamlessly into the live action. There’s also an excellent supporting cast, with Bill Hader, Kristen Wig, Jason Batemen, Jeffery Tambor, and Sigourney Weaver all excellent in their respective roles.
Like SOTD and Hot Fuzz, Paul pays homage to a genre of film, with nods to virtually every science fiction/alien movie I’ve ever seen, as well as many I’m sure that I haven’t (the Close Encounters reveal was especially well done). Without giving away any of the plot, Paul is simultaneously a loving tribute to science fiction/geek culture, a road film/buddy comedy done only as Pegg and Frost could play it, and a meditation on religion, science, and relationships. It’s a lot to pull off at one time (and Pegg and Frost admittedly toned down the evolution vs. creationism message initially in the script due to the wider audience Paul was expected to play to), but Paul manages to do most of it aplomb (there’s a dab of rom/com that feels a bit tacked on but doesn’t detract from the movie much at all). Paul gets a solid 8 out of 10 on the JLo scale and a hearty recommendation for you to check it out in the theater.