One thing that I cannot stand about America is our poo-poo jokes and the fact that swearing still brings around giggles to people. For a bit we got over that, but since The 40-Year Old Virgin, this has become the cool thing to do. T40YOV was tasteful and was able to display this “potty” humor in a way that was original and genuinely funny (note: Kevin Smith has been the best at this for years, but he has never really made it into the mainstream. Not as big as Judd Apatow at least.) . T40YOV broke some sort of barrier that Smith has been trying to bust for years and because of that, this generation of “Apatowian” or “Rogenian” movies have been sprouting up all over the place. An R rated comedy is now extremely common and even with the rating and the age barrier it is still reaching very a broad audience. And now these goddamned American producers think….edit: KNOW* that throwing in Seth Rogen or Paul Rudd or Jason Segel is going make that movie so much more successful. Obviously I am referring to the tragically Americanized film Paul.
Paul…Written by two members of the triplet of cohorts responsible for the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy (SOTD, HF, TWE). Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are potentially the greatest comedy duo of our generation. Starring together in classic films and series such as Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz, set a standard for themselves. When I see a Pegg/Frost film, I expect it to be one of the greatest comedies of all time. However, Paul, was not. Not even close.
The concept was alright, It was fun, and could have been great. An alien crash lands on Earth in the 1960’s. In 2010 a couple of guys from England visit the U.S. to experience Comic-Con and traverse the “Extraterrestrial Highway”. They run in to the alien fugitive Paul and he convinces them to help him get to where ever it is that he is going. Along the way they are chased by some FBI agent’s , a kidnapped girl’s crazed father, and a couple of homophobic rednecks (who stole the show and were not in it nearly enough). This is such great groundwork to build a genuinely funny movie off of. And with these two plus Greg Mottola directing, it seems like the ingredients for a great movie are there.
There were too many problems with the movie for me to fit into this review so let me just touch on some of the bigger ones. Let’s start with the main characters. They had no character arc, that is storytelling 101. What happens when you have no arc in your characters is that the audience doesn’t give a shit about them. The only thing that the audience would have to grab onto at that point would be the characters wit. Which surprisingly, they had none. That’s right, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost were not even the slightest bit witty. And to fill in the gaps where the wit should have been was a plethora of curse words, which is only funny if you’re like 10 years old. Add a small twist at the end with a cameo and you have Paul.
I wouldn’t recommend this movie even to the Pegg and Frost fans, for it may have been a waste of my time.