I like comedies and I’m fascinated by aliens, so Paul, the new sci-fi comedy written by and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (of Shaun of the Dead fame) seemed right up my alley. In short, Paul is pretty good, but nothing special.
Paul is about two English comic book nerds and buddies, Graeme and Clive (Pegg and Frost), who travel across the Atlantic to attend Comic-Con and to take a trip in their RV across the country to visit alleged alien hotspots. Of course, they run into the titular character, voiced by Seth Rogen, who is unlike all the stereotypes we have come to expect, and that kick starts off a series of wild and wacky adventures.
For me, there were lots of moments where I went, ‘That’s very clever’ and had a giggle or two, but the laugh-out-loud moments were rarer than expected (though, to be fair, there were a couple of ripper gems). That made it slightly disappointing as I thought the potential for better laughs was definitely there.
My favourite thing about Paul is the Arrested Development connections. The film is directed by Greg Mottola, who did a few AD episodes back in the day before going on to direct Superbad and Adventureland. Jason Bateman plays the mysterious Agent Zoil, and there’s also Jeffrey Tambor as a sci-fi writer and Jane Lynch as a themed cafe owner. They are all brilliant. I won’t spoil any more than that except to mention that the film also features the likes of Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids), Bill Hader (Adventureland) and John Carroll Lynch (my favourite husband from Fargo), plus a few truly awesome cameos.
Ultimately, Paul is what it is. A few flashes of comedic brilliance, some clever lines, surprisingly wonderful cameos and references — super fun but not exactly super funny. I’d call it an amusing film with a dash of geeky charm, for the most part an enjoyable chuckler as opposed to a laugh-out-loud kind of movie.
3.25 stars out of 5