James Helsby

LRE #53: Paul

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Little Red Envelope

In my mailbox this week:

Release Year: 2011

Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Jason Bateman

Traveling the western United States, after just finishing up Comic-Con, two Brits happen upon a stranded alien who is trying desperately to get home.

Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost. Honestly, you either love them or hate them. I find very few people who are in the later category, but still there are some. If you enjoyed Hot Fuzz, or Shaun of the Dead, like I did, then you shouldn’t be surprised by yet another glowing review of this duo’s films. 

But… I wasn’t sold off the bat. You see, while I love Pegg and Frost, I find that I am getting increasingly annoyed with Seth Rogen. It’s a personal thing, just like how some people can’t stand Samuel Jackson. No matter what part Rogen plays, he is always still Seth Rogen. Same voice, same inflections, same demeanor. No variation at all. And for an actor, a major film actor, it seems more like Seth Rogen as an alien, than an Alien played by Seth Rogen.

Subtle variation. But none the less, it’s been a pet peave of mine for a while. Just like all Tim Burton movies are Tim Burton movies.

But, I was pleasantly surprised.

The film starts off with Graeme Willy (Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Frost) visiting their life long Mecca or Comic-Con in San Diego. The mingle with their heros (including Jeffery Tambor) and after a hotel mix up, are constantly being confused for gay lovers. Gollings is a former Nedula award winning author, who wrote one short story when he was a child. Willy as a graphic artist, who loves to capture caricatures of people on his journeys.

The two set off to see some of the great paranormal sites of the West, piloting an RV on a heading for Area 51. But along the way, the ‘accidentally’ back into a truck belonging to some local hicks. Convinced that they are being chased down the highway by the locals, Willy and Gollings flee in terror, only to realize (moments before it crashes) that  the vehicle following them is nothing more than a jet black Crown Victoria.

But when it crashes, the survivor turns out to be the last thing that they expected. An alien. Paul the alien. Named after the dog he killed when his space ship crash landed some 60 years earlier. Paul was captured by US forces, but treated with consideration. Until the government decided that they had learned all they could. Now they want the information he can’t describe. His brain, his skin, all of it.

Paul flees, and asks Willy and Gollings to help him get to a safe destination where his people can come rescue him.

Sounds dry, but don’t be distracted. Paul is a perpetual nod to the geek audience. Scene after scene are filled with references to other awesome movies. Ghostbusters. Star Wars. Star Trek. Close Encounters. With so many winks, you would think that it would become mundane and boring, but some how it never does. It keeps delivering wit right down until the very lest moment. Beyond. Right into the credits.

Paul is hilarious. Unfortunately, it is also very directly targeted towards the geek. Hence, I loved it. My wife loved it. If you are a reader of Watch Play Read, I would venture that you would love it to.

Luckily, Seth Rogen, all though he was still Seth Rogen, didn’t really hurt the film. He has this ‘lovable big guy’ (wife’s description) that works well for how they made the character of Paul. You expect hijinks and low brow humor, but instead you get a lot of high brow. It’s a different kind of film, that I can recommend strongly.

If you enjoyed the ‘Blood and Ice Cream’ movies, then you should like this. It isn’t in the series, but it feels very similar. And, add in a dash of Jason Bateman, and you have some comedy gold.

How painful was it: Awesome. No really. It was that good.

Rating: 8/10. I can’t give a film 10/10 if it has Rogen in it. And there were a few dull moments towards the middle. But otherwise, it was great.

The Wife’s Retort: 8/10. Didn’t really know what to expect, but that was seriously hilarious.

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