If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then go see Paul and I pretty much guarantee you will, if not love it, enjoy yourself immensely. In fact, it was seemingly made for you, the comic-loving, film-swilling, sci-fi tv amorist, i.e. a nerd.
Paul begins with two lifelong BFFs from England, Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost), petering about Comic-Con with jaws agape and eyes the size of saucers. They gather autographs, take pictures, ogle samurai swords and hob-nob in giddy awe with kids half their age. They’re on holiday — first timers in the states. After the con, the duo is heading out in a rented RV to tour famous UFO hot spots of the southwest.
Don’t confuse their authentic curiosity and warmth for naiveté. These two are each that rare type of person who is comfortable in their own skin and isn’t afraid to be themselves, even if that means coming across as a little awkward and a lot geeky. The chemistry between Frost and Pegg, founded in real life, comes across with a tangible vibrance you don’t see on the screen very often. They’re the definition of besties, and it’s always a joy to watch these two work together on film, whether they’re slaying zombies or mowing down entire corrupt towns.
Before long, our duo runs into the titular Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), a cigarette smoking, foul-mouthed alien. He crash-landed on earth in the 40s and has since been held prisoner in a top-secret government facility where he’s, unbeknown to the world, orchestrating some of the grander achievements in the technology and entertainment worlds.
Paul has a few special abilities that the government wants to get to know on a more intimate basis. And now that they’ve extracted all his knowledge, he’s bound for the autopsy table. Luckily Paul’s escaped and is now on the lam. You know the drill, our geeky friends from before team up with Paul to send him home. The originality isn’t found in the plot; it’s within the characters and performances.
I promise you’ve never seen an alien like this before. He’s charming, witty, sophomoric and wise. After watching the trailer for the first time, I was more than a little apprehensive about Seth Rogen voicing Paul. It didn’t seem to fit. I couldn’t lose the image of Seth Rogen and focus on the character of the alien. Within the context of the movie, however, the choice is absolutely perfect. You do eventually forget that it’s an actor’s voice, and Paul comes to life as his own character.
I’ll be the first one to admit that the jokes are crud, the plot telegraphed and the characters stereotypes. The script knows it too. But you don’t care. There is such a genuine feeling of camaraderie and amiability, you’re more than happy to go along for the ride. There are several nods to the great films of the genre, I won’t ruin any of them for you. The film nerds among us will know them when they hear and see them.
The CGI is good, but not great. Paul seems a little stiff at times. Clearly most of the work went into his eyes, as they’re super detailed and truly feel like windows to the endless knowledge an alien of this caliber would surely carry.
Paul is funny, both the movie and the character. I laughed, I nodded my head in reverence to the homage and most of all, I smiled the whole way through. You can’t ask for a movie to do much more than that.
My Best of 2012 Playlist by Eric Garneau
After being inspired by some friends, for the past few years I’ve been really into documenting my musical exploration with year-end mixes. I realize this is not a particularly novel thing to do, but hey, who has original ideas any more? Anyway, this has gotten even easier to do thanks to new technology like Spotify. read more