Since the entertaining 30-minute presentation of “Paul” at this year’s Comic-Con, I’ve been anticipating the film’s arrival in theaters. The panel at Geek mecha was comprised of Greg Mottola, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jason Bateman, Seth Rogen, Jeffrey Tambor and the illustrious Sigourney Weaver. The banter amongst the talent was amusing; not only was I clued in on how fun it was to work on the project, but also the film’s quality, which I assumed to be fantastic since all involved had total faith I wouldn’t be let down.
I was impressed by what little was teased. Knowing what Pegg and Frost were capable of from their previous work, I expected the clips to be funny and they were. Plus, it was cool to discover the writers created the film in tribute to sci-fi fans and Comic-Con geeks like myself. So, when I got the invite for “Paul” last week, of course I made sure my schedule was clear. As one would have anticipated for a screening like this, the theater was packed. Demographic wise, I’d say the test audience was comprised of 18- to 35-year-olds — mostly male.
Now, onto the good stuff. If you’re not familiar with the movie’s plot, here’s a brief run down. “Paul” is about an alien held captive by the U.S. Government after his ship crashed some time in the 1940s. Fast forward to today: Paul breaks out of his imprisonment but ends up crashing the car he fled in during the process. Enter Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost), a couple of extra-terrestrial enthusiasts on a road trip across America to the most popular UFO landmarks. The geeky pair aid the runaway alien on his quest for freedom.
I know this all sounds very pedestrian, but leave it to the geniuses behind “Hot Fuzz” and “Shaun of the Dead” to make such a simple story anything but. “Paul” was simply hilarious and in some ways sentimental. Don’t let the latter scare you away, however. Pegg and Frost are very aware of their target audience; so don’t expect any scenes created just for the sole purpose of making a person verklempt. “Paul” isn’t that kind of movie.
What it is, however, is a humorous road trip with a foul-mouthed alien and two blokes whose dreams of making first contact with a Grey comes to pass by accident.
Come to think of it, Paul was sorta green.
… but I digress.
Everything works pretty much. I’ll get to what didn’t for me in a moment. But let’s start with the pros.
Everyone in the cast was pretty fantastic. But the stand-out for me was not the alien. It was Jason Bateman. He’s a bit of a badass in “Paul” and surprisingly he does badass well. Bill Hader of SNL fame and Joe Lo Truglio from “Reno 911” play the two remaining agents, whose modern-day slapstick routine will have audiences rolling and Jeffrey Tambor’s cameo provides a good chuckle. Kristin Wiig as a self-righteous religious person is definitely amusing, but I had some issues with her, which I’ll get to in my cons. Seth Rogen’s voice work wasn’t bad, but again, more in cons. However, the pair that completed the film was, of course, Pegg and Frost. No, I haven’t forgotten about Sigourney Weaver. She was amazing and she looks it, too, but she’s mostly heard and not seen.
The issues I had with the film don’t outweigh the fun I had while watching. I can ignore the fact that I found Seth’s voice, although adequate, rather bland. I can overlook Kristin Wiig’s sometimes-annoying characterization of a zealot. And, lastly, I can definitely cast aside any problems I felt about the editing since, after all, what I viewed was a rough cut. I’m sure the glitches will be fixed long before the movie’s release.
All in all, “Paul” is a cleverly written and well-directed film and it’s a must see for sci-fi and comic-book fans. It’s a movie that will sit with you. I myself have been thinking of certain scenes a week after the screening. That being said, I’ll definitely see the finished product on March 18 next year when the film officially opens. I’m sure many of my fellow fanboys and girls will do the same and it’s doubtful they will be disappointed.
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Follow Sherice Antoinette on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ShericesPieces.