Skip to main content

Style Magazine

Film Review: Paul

Mar 19, 2011 12:50PM ● By Wendy Sipple

My expectations on this film were very high based upon Simon Pegg’s and Nick Frost’s other collaborations, namely Shaun of the Dead and Hott Fuzz. Both of those movies were excellent. Although the two actors definitely have a good chemistry together, Paul was just a shadow of the brilliance of the pairs previous work.

The plot is straight forward. Two British nerds (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) come to America to go to Comic Con then take a road trip to all the famous UFO hotspots. While on their road trip they stumble upon Paul, an alien on the run from the government voiced by Seth Rogan. The trio race across the Midwest trying to get Paul home while being chased by the “men in black”.

Part of the trouble I had with Paul is that there really wasn’t many surprises in the film. In great comedies something happens to shock the audience into laughter and sets itself apart. This does not happen here. Instead most of the movie is spent pandering to sci-fi “geek” moments from past sci-fi films. There are so many references to other films it would take a few pages to name them all, and that is just the ones I notice upon first viewing. Those who follow Star Trek, Star Wars, or go to comic book conventions regularly will find these references very funny. Those that don’t will find the references to be flat or annoying. What worked so well in Shaun of the Dead and Hott Fuzz was that the films themselves were played fairly straight with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost providing the comedy as idiots that don’t really realize the circumstances they’re in. In Paul, the cast was packed with comic actors and no one seemed to play their part straight, so it came across as a long Saturday Night Live skit. 

The last complaint I had with the story is it seemed intent on putting faith-based people down. The movie was very unapologetic about its stance of Darwin equals good, Religion equals stupid. They depicted people who believed in God as mindless, bible toting, hicks. And once Paul showed that God did not exist, the dumb Christians were only too happy to be shown the light and saved from their stupidity. This was not done subtly, and I think these scenes will definitely offend some.

The effects of Paul were done very well. It’s amazing how far visual effects have come. The pace of the movie is handled well too and although everything is fairly predictable it did not get boring either. Paul is definitely made for a very specific audience. If you are a sci-fi geek that knows how to speak Klingon, knows all the epic shots from films like Close Encounter from the Third Kind, and would laugh at a country western version of the “cantina” song from the original Star Wars film then Paul will be a lot of fun for you. Those that are not big sci-fi fans will find you are too often left out of the jokes.

FILMS LIKE PAUL : Spaced Invaders, Mars Attacks, Galaxy Quest and Spaceballs

Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.