Review: Paul by Jamie
01/03/2011, 8:00 am
Filed under: Review

There was a time when I believed in a lot of bullshit. Not God, of course. I never got that stupid but things like psychics, ghosts and alien abduction. Alien abduction was the really big one for me. I‘d spend hours reading every story I could about it. I wasn’t any less intelligent then than I am now. In fact I was probably more intelligent than I am now, drink having not dulled my senses just yet. The fact was that I didn’t know how to apply my scepticism with regards to an ultimate creator to all the other things that have absolutely no evidence for their existence. Then one day, and I can’t remember what the trigger for it was, I just realised exactly that. I didn’t believe in a god because there was no evidence for one but I didn’t apply the same thinking to all the paranormal shit I believed in. So I did and my eyes were opened to a happier, more rational existence.

Now I should point out before carrying on that not believing in alien abduction or alien visitation of Earth does not mean I do no not believe in the existence of aliens. That’s the kind of arrogant anthrocentric thinking that put humanity at the top of the heap when it came to creation myths. No, we’re just a hairless ape that happened to evolve the ability to ponder it’s existence. The size of the universe alone makes it seem unlikely that we’re the only ones who have. Of course having a sample size of one makes true discussion on the subject difficult without resorting to what is essentially speculation… So yeah, today I’m looking at the sci-fi comedy ‘Paul’.

It’s the story of two geeks Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Nick Frost) who travel across America starting at the San Diego Comic Con before going to visit the famous sights from American UFO lore such as Roswell and Area 51 (with it’s infamous black mail box which was indeed actually replaced with a bullet-proof white one with a padlock as the rancher it owned to was pissed off with UFO fans going through his mail assuming it was for the base). One night they run into Paul (Seth Rogen) who happens to be an alien escaping from the base after 60 years in captivity. He’s trying to get across the country to a spot where he can be picked up by his people. The two decide to help him on his quest and along the way run into all kinds of predicaments which lead to doings transpiring.

That’ll do for story since the film hasn’t even come out in America yet and I certainly don’t want to be too spoilerific with that being the case. I’ll just say that I found this film very funny. The film is packed with sci-fi references from Star Wars to Batlestar Galactica to The X-Files. Steven Spielberg in particularly is heavily referenced, sometimes with the odd quote thrown in from, say, Jaws but sometimes an entire scene will reference the director’s work. Hell, there’s a scene where Paul is shown sitting in the warehouse from the Indiana Jones series awesome.

What I’m basically getting at here is that if you’re not a big sci-fi fan, there’s a good chance that a lot of these references and jokes might just go over your head and you won’t find it anywhere near as funny as I did. The problem is balance. The film isn’t as funny as Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz and the reason is that, whilst those films were full of references to the genres they were paying homage to, they didn’t rely to heavily on them. There was enough humour from other places that someone not so familiar with those genres could latch onto and enjoy.

‘Paul’ seems to rely a lot more heavily on the references than either of those films did and the humour that isn’t directly related to sci-fi isn’t anywhere as clever as those films either. It’s still enjoyable and will get a few decent chuckles but to often they seem to resort to a joke that involves Paul being naked or profanity. There’s one character in particular who does very little but come up with weird swear words arranged in odd ways. That’ll make more sense when you see the film. Also towards the end of the film it seemed like they’d pretty much given up on everything but swearing and every other word that came out of a characters mouth seemed to be fuck or something. I’m not easily offended it just seemed like they’d almost given up and gotten lazy, deciding naughty words would be enough to elicit a cheap laugh.

That being said I can’t stay mad at this movie. It kinda made me feel like that little kid again who believed that aliens had crashed in America in the 1940s and had been visiting Earth. And I really liked the character of Paul. There’s something funny about seeing a grey-type alien doing human things like something as simple as smoke a cigarette or drink a beer. I don’t know why. Maybe you had to be as involved with this stuff as I was when I was a kid to find that funny, I dunno. It was just cool. There’s also an awesome scene in which Paul is involved in a discussion about evolution and creationism. I was very, very happy with that.

So yeah, for me personally, I’ll give Paul four pints out of five. Again though, I think this gonna be a very subjective film. If you’re not a big sci-fi fan then I warn you now, you aren’t gonna get a lot of the jokes or references and the stuff that’s left after that’s gone isn’t the greatest you’ll have seen from these three comic actors before but I reckon it should still be entertaining enough to garner a watch. Laterz.

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