Monday, June 20, 2011

Flick of The Day: Paul

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have a reputation producing some of the best British comedy of the past decade, from the influential and short lived TV series Spaced  to the wonderful zombie rom-com Shaun of the Dead, which launched them to stardom, propelling Pegg in particular to the Hollywood big time with roles in Mission Impossible III and Star Trek. The duo had not worked together since 2007's Hot Fuzz until the eagerly awaited arrival of today's flick of the day, Paul.
Graeme played by Pegg and Clive played by Frost are two British sci-fi geeks on the holiday of a lifetime in the US. They visit the world famous Comic-Con in San Diego before launching into a cross country road trip to visit various sites of supposed UFO contact such as Area-51 and Roswell in an RV. In short then, they are  a particularly unworldly duo. Of course, there is great humour in the various pop culture references and geek nostalgia  a regular feature in their past collaborations. Of course, the road trip doesn't go to plan as they have their very own close encounter on a lonely desert road with a foul mouthed Alien by the name of Paul voiced by Seth Rogen. Paul is on the run from the American government in the form of Agent Zoil played by the always entertaining Jason Bateman. Paul is entertaining and endearing and it is not long before his new friends are enlisted to help him return home as they try and outwit government agents, backward rednecks and a fire and brimstone preacher. Along the way there are some great gags and a voice cameo from a very famous director.
The real enjoyable aspect of this film are the numerous pop culture and film references that give it a warm charm that is impossible to resist. Pegg and Frost are as usual perfect as the amiable dorks and in Paul, they have created one of the great screen aliens. Rogen was a good choice as the voice artist, giving Paul a familiarity and wonderfully profane aspect. While not as laugh out loud funny as some of their previous efforts, there are some great one liners.

Graeme Willy: You are an alien! 
Paul: To you I am, yes. 
Graeme Willy: Are you gonna probe us? 
Paul: *Why* does everyone always assume that? What am I doing? Am I harvesting farts? How much can I learn from an ass?

They have succeeded in maintaining their usual brand of humour while also adding a warm sweet natured comedy that has a lot of heart. This is a new strong to the Pegg/Frost bow and we can only hope that they push on from here.
All in all, this is a very enjoyable film if nothing ground breaking. There is a lot to be said for a film that is short, sweet and funny. So often Hollywood seems incapable of delivering this with each new Summer delivering a new batch of turgid comic book adaptations. Be thankful then for the small mercies of Paul, charming and slight though it may be. I await the next Simon Pegg and Nick Frost collaboration.

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