Friday, 4 March 2011


Emma and I are going to Las Vegas this summer. It's going to be a bit of a road trip, actually. We've hired a car and we're going to travel out to California, spend a few nights in Los Angeles and a few more in San Diego before heading back to Vegas for the second week.

I mention this not to gloat (although......), but because it is similar to the journey taken by the main protagonists in Paul, the latest comedy vehicle of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Graham Willy (Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Frost) start in San Diego at the Comic-Con convention (Emma says we'll be starting at the zoo) and several mishaps later end up journeying quite blindly across America in the company of an alien. That's Paul.

Along the way they pick up the fanatically religious Ruth, prompting much creationism versus evolution debate between her and Paul. God botherers may want to look away at the point when Paul appears to prove that all of Darwen's theories are correct and that humanity evolved over millions of years and was not created by a supreme being with an afternoon to kill. Personally, I didn't need much convincing on that score.

As a matter of fact it is the most believable notion in the whole film. But that's alright because this is a film about an alien. Look elsewhere if you're seeking gritty realism. Not that it lacks any attempt at philosophy. One of Paul's 'things' is to impart his wisdom on the otherwise hapless Willy and Gollings aswell as Ruth. He also smokes dope, dances and revives a dead bird before stuffing it into his mouth and swallowing it whole. Paul is not just any old alien. He's a multi-talented alien.

All of which gives you an idea of the kind of comedy you're dealing with. You are either going to like it or you're not. It has been criticised for allegedly paying homage to too many other sci-fi films and while it is true that some dialogue is lifted entirely from elsewhere, it is done with good intentions and will work quite well for sci-fi fans who are prepared to let go and not take the genre too seriously. Assuming such people exist. Paul is good fun but nothing much more. It will not be remembered 100 years from now and may not even bear comparison to earlier Pegg/Frost efforts like Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz.

The ending is predictable and features a wholly unnecessary cameo from Sigourney Weaver. Why they didn't break the bank for Carrie Fisher I'll never know. Anyway, it does at least offer a final chance to shine for possibly the film's strongest character and best performer, Jason Bateman as government agent Zoyle. What? Didn't I mention that Paul had been working for the government but, fearing that he had outgrown his use to them, had decided to flee back to his home planet with Zoyle in hot pursuit?

Must have had my mind on that road trip...............

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