When’s it out?
Paul goes on general release across the UK from Monday, February 14th.
Who’s in it?
Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and Seth Rogan.
What’s it about?
After a flying visit to the celebrated geek utopia of San Diego’s illustrious Comic-Con festival, a duo of thirtysomething British nerds hire a Winnebago, and embark upon a D.I.Y tour of some of America’s most famous UFO hotspots. Before they’ve even had time to make their second pit-stop, they encounter a profane, obnoxious extra terrestrial named Paul, who needs their help to return home. A cross-country chase ensues, with a trio of bumbling Secret Service agents in hot pursuit.
What’s it like?
There are light shades of Kevin Smith and (inevitably) Edgar Wright, but this is Frost and Pegg’s gig through and through. And thus, in the best possible way, Paul is precisely what you probably think it’s going to be. Irreverence, homage, a bit of action, and some very big laughs ensue.
Star of the show?
The reliably inimitable Pegg/Frost double act has managed to ensnare an absolutely peerless comedic ensemble here, all of whom do splendid work. The titular alien is a marvellous illustration of utterly bang-on special effects, but whether you sincerely warm to the character will probably have a lot to do with whether or not you tend to warm to Seth Rogan; who, true to form, plays Seth Rogan once again here. That said, the star of the show is probably Pegg and Frost’s wry and permanently high-spirited script.
Greg Mottola’s direction. For a filmmaker known primarily for his work in television, and comparatively lo-fi big-screen comedies like Superbad and Adventureland, Mottola handles everything – particularly the action-packed final reel – like a cocksure old hand. He also takes to the more emotional material much more proficiently than Edgar Wright did in Shaun, and a brief pre-credits sequence that directly apes Close Encounters Of The Third Kind is genuinely first-rate.
There are individual gags in Paul that’ll make your inner geek want to briskly leap to his or her feet in order to loudly applaud. But as far as standout scenes go, it’s a toss-up between a surprise (and very game) cameo from a true living legend, and a wonderful thirty-second sequence in which Kristen Wiig’s character samples marijuana for the first time. Cherry-picked comedic high points aside, the way in which the script constantly (and mercilessly) mocks its own loyal adherence to Hollywood road movie formula, is priceless.
Paul sees Simon Pegg and Nick Frost inarguably playing things very safe indeed. Despite this, and despite the fact that it’s very difficult to disagree too much with the compulsory quarrel that Edgar Wright was really the right man for this particular job, Paul is still just about as entertaining and engaging as films of this ilk possibly can be. And very much like Hot Fuzz and Shaun Of The Dead – and thus unlike almost every other big-budget comedy that comes along these days – the best bits have very graciously been kept out of the trailer.
Hit or miss?
A hit; potentially a huge one.
Watch the Paul trailer here: