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Only one film for review this week: Paul is the third fea­ture to be writ­ten by and star Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, respons­ible for two of my favour­ite films of the last dec­ade, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. This time around they’re not joined by dir­ect­or Edgar Wright (busy with his own Scott Pilgrim pic­ture from last year) and the flick is dir­ec­ted by Greg Mottola (Superbad).

Pegg and Frost play Graeme Willy and Clive Gollings, two very English sci-fi and com­ic book fans on a dream hol­i­day: Comic-Con in San Diego then rent an RV and drive to the most fam­ous UFO sites in the States (Area 51, Roswell New Mexico, etc.) While nerd­ing it hap­pily around the place they wit­ness a car crash and dis­cov­er the only sur­viv­or is a three foot tall ali­en (big head, big eyes) named Paul. He’s a wise-cracking smart-ass with the entirely appro­pri­ate voice of Seth Rogen and he’s been enjoy­ing the hos­pit­al­ity of the US gov­ern­ment for fifty years until they finally decide to cut him up to see how his brain works. So he escapes.

Of course, the G‑Men are after him which means they are also after Graeme and Clive and the res­ult is a very funny, very sweet, road movie with plenty of amus­ing detail for movie buffs (like me) and more than enough vanilla gags for the rest.

Pegg plays a minor vari­ation of his usu­al weak-guy-finds-strength char­ac­ter (cf Run Fatboy Run, Shaun, etc.) but Frost does a par­tic­u­larly nice job of break­ing away from his usu­al oafish type and does a remark­ably sens­it­ive job. Of par­tic­u­lar note is the very good use made of the tal­en­ted comedi­enne Kristen Wiig. She gets a well deserved lead­ing role as a (actu­ally and meta­phor­ic­ally) one-eyed born-again whose life is trans­formed by Paul’s fin­ger (hard to explain, you really have to be there).

Unlike their col­lab­or­a­tions with Wright, this par­tic­u­lar Pegg-Frost pic­ture doesn’t rein­vent cinema but it does hon­our it and that’s worth plenty in my book.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 6 April, 2011.

An extra thought: I’ve been get­ting Kristen Wiig and Kristen Schaal’s names mixed up for years. Won’t be mak­ing that mis­take again.


  • Robert Catto says:

    Ah, that sounds prom­ising. I was wor­ried it would fall into the Hitchhiker’s Guide trap of being British com­edy edited for American audi­ences (= not funny for any­one), but pos­sibly it escapes that fate. I’ll check it out…hopefully at the Roxy!

  • dfmamea says:

    the fam­ily went to see this one (the kids chose/defaulted-to* it) and it was enjoyed all ’round. the kid­s’re mid-teens but i was still a little shocked at how potty-mouthed the film was. my age, i s’pose.

    * defaulted-to – as in: PARENTS (hav­ing worked through avail­able school hol’ films): Who wants to see Paul? TEENAGERS (grunted chor­us): Whatever. PARENTS (jaws clenched): Right then.