Two English comic book geeks traveling across the U.S. encounter an alien outside Area 51.Two English comic book geeks traveling across the U.S. encounter an alien outside Area 51.Two English comic book geeks traveling across the U.S. encounter an alien outside Area 51.
Scott Pilgrim – directed by Edgar Wright who also directed the first two films mentioned – was a geek-friendly action comedy. Paul is more of a geek-friendly comedy. It's crude, so think Superbad (Greg Mottola had directed that too) instead of Shaun. Then add the whole 'comic' tone of Scott Pilgrim – the great action scenes but less violent and amusing ones instead, and two geeks who are into comics rather than in the comic like Scott Pilgrim was. And add E.T gone comedy with the voice of Seth Rogen. Plus add a cameo from Sigourney Weaver. Then you have Paul, a geeky, clever, and very funny film but simultaneously you then have its problem.
As you could probably figure from the description above, the problem being said is that Paul tries to pack too much in during the encounter with the alien itself. The running time is a perfect 104 minutes. But by the end of those 104 minutes, there are several suggested sub- plots and alternate directions that could have been taken to reach the destination. One sub-plot involves Paul shattering Ruth's (Kristen Wiig) faith. It's an odd film to have a religious subtext in and it will maybe have questions thrown at in terms of what message is trying to be said. Nevertheless, those 104 minutes are brimmed with pure entertainment and the plot is established enough to make sense and not take a wrong turn.
With an ensemble cast, what makes Paul especially hilarious is how every character in the film has a moment of comedy gold. That includes Adam Stevenson – famous writer whom they meet at a Comic-Con festival and simply has five on-screen minutes. Five amusing on-screen minutes. Pegg and Frost are as funny as they were before, fizzing chemistry over Area 51, still the brilliant duo that work better than Pegg and Andy Serkis did in Pegg's last film Burke and Hare. They're buddies with mutual buddy-love that are better together than most odd pairings. It's (probably) guaranteed that they will stay as the best British duo even off-screen as Thomson and Thompson in the upcoming Tintin film which is to be directed by veteran sci-fi director Steven Spielberg. It's reported that Pegg and Frost said that Paul was a love letter to Spielberg – it sure is an amusing one, and is certainly the best Valentine-themed film this Valentine's Day.
The pair wrote the screenplay for this film – so expect many contemporary references – plenty of sci-fi ones – and clever gags. At times, the jokes can feel a little self indulgent; inside jokes that would probably confuse most and only careful listeners can interpret the clever jokes. The majority of the script, however, is a laugh-a-minute ride with some recurring jokes that become funnier and funnier throughout. Paul's part of the script gives a big L to The Green Hornet; Seth Rogen was much funnier off screen. The actor was miscast as the green superhero so there were dreads of him being miscast as this green amiable alien but kudos to Pegg and Frost because this was the perfect script for Rogen to show that The Green Hornet's failed hilarity wasn't detrimental. Looking at another view, if Rogen was the screenwriter for Paul, then maybe it would have been of the dull standard of the Hornet unless he can still write something on par with Superbad. Imagine that.
Paul may be a funnier film for the more clever/geeky viewer. If that's the case, the words 'Cult Following' can be seen written all over it. For all other audience, Pegg and Frost haven't diminished in their comedy quality from their previous films even though Paul may be broader than either of them. If Scott Pilgrim was the geekiest film of last year, Paul definitely wins that title for this year. It may not be an Out of This World film (pun partially intended) but lays claim to the most hilarious film of 2011 yet.
Verdict: Your money's worth – Paul is the funniest film there has been in ages.
- Feb 15, 2011