PAUL. (2011) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

PAUL. (2011) DIRECTED BY GREG MOTTOLA. WRITTEN BY AND STARRING SIMON PEGG AND NICK FROST. ALSO STARRING SETH ROGEN (VOICE AND MOTION CAPTURE), STEVEN SPIELBERG (VOICE), KRISTEN WIIG, JASON BATEMAN, BLYTHE DANNER, JANE LYNCH, JEFFREY TAMBOR AND SIGOURNEY WEAVER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I liked this film, although I didn’t love it. What I do love is the comic pairing of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ, etc.), two of the funniest and cleverest comedy writers and actors of this generation. SHAUN OF THE DEAD is a horror comedy classic that I now re-watch every Halloween, and HOT FUZZ is pretty damn funny too.

The on-screen friendship between the two lads, Pegg and Frost, just has so much affection, fun and a deep, genuine love for each other and their subject material in it. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by their relationship and obvious passion for their craft and the horror and sci-fi genres.

My personal opinion is that they should both just make horror and/or sci-fi comedy films with each other till the end of time. They’re both so boyishly likable and lovable as well. It’d be hard not to feel a connection with them.

In PAUL, Pegg and Frost play Graeme Willy (they can’t resist a bit of schoolboy humour, these lads) and the writer Clive Gollings respectively. They are two British comic book and science fiction enthusiasts who travel to ‘Murica to attend the annual San Diego Comic-Con, the biggest of its kind in the world.

They’re basically just playing themselves, which is adorable. They are delighted to meet there the writer Adam Shadowchild, who apparently has penned a fuck-ton of great sci-fi books with largely terrible titles.

After leaving the convention, the two lads decide to go on a road trip through the Southwestern US to take in various sites where UFOs and aliens are supposed to have crash-landed over the years. Area 51, Roswell, etc.

Imagine their pants-pissing shock (we’re looking at you, Clive Gollings!) when a fellow traveller through the isolated desert roads turns out to be a bona fide alien called Paul (Paranoid Alien Ultra Life Force), who’s escaping from the Feds and needs a ride…

Paul is cheeky, fast-talking, sarcastic and quippy and he loves his pistachio nuts, his weed and his booze. Graeme and Clive agree to drive him across country to the spot where his mothership will be waiting to take him home, even though Clive in particular is extremely nervous about being anally probed. After Paul assures him that that belief is totally false (‘What’s an ass gonna teach me? What can I learn from an ass?’), the lads set about driving him in their rented RV to his destination.

On their way, they pick up a one-eyed Christian Fundamentalist female, Ruth Buggs, who has the hots for shy little Graeme and literally can’t wait to shake off the shackles of her Bible-thumping upbringing. Graeme sure isn’t gonna put up a fight…!

The road trip buddies are pursued the whole time by the ‘Men In Black,’ the guys who work for the government and who try to persuade you that you didn’t see nuthin’ when you report having spotted a blazing light in the night sky and a strange, circular-shaped craft alight in the desert that one time you thought you’d walk home from ‘Shit-kickers’ ‘cause it was such a nice balmy evening. The Feds are being strongly urged by an unknown someone referred to as ‘the Big Guy’ to catch that damn alien or else…

The film is an homage mainly to all the Steven Spielberg science fiction, action and adventure and alien films that Frost and Pegg would have adored in their youths: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, ET: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, INDIANA JONES and the Daddy of ‘em all, JAWS. Smile, you son of a bitch…!

Other shows and films get a look-in too though: THE X-FILES, LORENZO’S OIL (don’t ask, lol), STAR WARS, STAR TREK, the ALIEN movies, THE INVINCIBLES and some other stuff which I forget, but you’ll have great craic playing ‘spot the reference,’ I assure you.

Sigourney Weaver as the kick-ass Feds boss, ‘the Big Guy,’ had this to say to Graham Norton on her appearance in the film: ‘It’s a love letter to sci-fi fans. I jumped at the chance to be in it. To find a comedy that also pays homage to sci-fi is a dream come true.’ Frost and Pegg must have been thrilled to get Hollywood and horror film royalty like Ms. Weaver to star in their film. She packs quite a good punch, too!

My personal favourite cameo appearance is from Blythe Danner, mum of Gwyneth Paltrow, but we won’t hold that against her…! We won’t hold FUTUREWORLD (1976) against her either, the pretty awful sequel to the amazing WESTWORLD (1973). She didn’t write it, after all!

Anyway, in PAUL, she plays a woman called Tara Walton whose life was shattered by a sighting of Paul sixty years ago that also killed her beloved dog. (Her childhood scenes will recall Cary Guffey as little Barry Guiler, leaving his house in the dead of night in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. Oh, that poor little boy, all alone in the dark with the aliens, who could forget it?)

Paul stops off to apologise to Tara on his way to the mothership, and she’s gracious enough to forgive him. She’s got a bit of kick-ass left in her own bag of tricks, too, which is good to see, as she floors ‘the Big Guy’ with a killer punch.

I must say that it’s really great to see older ladies like Blythe Danner, Olwen Fouere (the latest TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE film) and Jamie Lee Curtis in the new HALLOWEEN movies getting prominent roles as strong women in big films in the last decade. It’s heartening to know that life doesn’t automatically end these days at forty, fifty or even sixty…!

Devil’s Tower National Monument features in the movie too. If you think you recognise it, that’s because you totally do. Just try to imagine it sitting on a plate at the dinner table and made entirely from mashed potatoes and you’re there…!

PAUL is good sweary fun, and it makes a good buddy movie-slash-road trip film with the added bonus of an extra-terrestrial twist, although there were whole swathes of time during the car chases where I definitely nodded off, as I find cock-sucking car chases so titty-flapping boring, if you take my meaning.

It’s a serviceable enough addition to the Pegg-Frost canon of collabarations, though not its best because SHAUN OF THE DEAD will always be that. Enjoy it, though, for what it is, and have yourselves a thoroughly ball-squeezing, titty-sucking evening now too, y’all…

 AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thirteen-Stops-Later-Book-ebook/dp/B091J75WNB/