Greg Mottola is one those few young directors who have managed to get recognition for their idiosyncratic direction — reason enough to watch out for all his movies. After Superbad and Adventureland, Mottola has come up with a sci-fi comedy named Paul.
The trailer of the movie was hilarious and had me anticipating its release. After watching the movie, though, I could not help but feel that it could have been so much better. An ordinary script and flashes of good acting made it merely average. After all, a great cast and director cannot make up for a flimsy plot and repetitive dialogue — ingredients which could sometimes spell disaster.
Paul is a road trip adventure about two British geeks, who are obsessed with sci-fi movies. Graeme Willy and Clive Gollings start their journey with their first pit stop being the annual gathering of Comic-Com. The trip picks up speed as Paul, a bald extraterrestrial intruder, hops on board — a materialisation of their greatest dream.
Graeme Willy and Clive Gollings are played by none other than Simon Pegg and Nick Frost — their comical duo in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz earned them wide recognition. This whimsical comedy gives them another chance to showcase their talent but this time around their on screen chemistry doesn’t quite actualise into a superb performance. Still, their subtle bro-mance and jokes make this an interesting performance.
The depiction of the alien (voiced by Seth Rogen) hews close to the stereotypical image; he is small and green with E T hands. However, Greg Mottola’s Paul is a pot-smoking wag in khaki shorts. This jocular version of an alien is perhaps the only redeeming factor in an otherwise ordinary movie.
The little green man, having escaped from a military facility where he was imprisoned for nearly 60 years, recruits Graeme and Clive as his accomplices. Escaping the security chief, who wants to extract the universe’s secrets from the little alien’s head, is the task at hand. The plot takes a twist when the three accidently kidnap Ruth Buggs, the daughter of a devoted Christian, who believes that the world is only 4,000 years old and is the creation of intelligent design. The exchange between Paul and the hyper-religious Ruth is hysterical — a clash of opposites. Kristen Wiig gives us an impressive performance as Ruth; her cameo role was refreshing and gave the movie much needed momentum after its slow start.
The script largely comprises of a range of jokes, leaving almost no space for a decent plot and character development. Many scenes in the movie may seem familiar — run-of-the-mill sci-fi stuff. The lead performances help make the movie appealing and generate some laughs. But that can’t hide the fact that Paul is a dumb nerd comedy that has hardly anything nerdy about it.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, August 7th, 2011.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ