PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
Graeme Willy and Clive Gollings (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) are two English comic book nerds and best friends who have travelled to The United States to attend the annual San Diego Comic-Con International and to take a road trip in their recreational vehicle (RV) to visit all the sites of major extraterrestrial importance. At night along the highway they investigate a crashed car and they meet and discover an alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) who is in desperate need of their help. Although shocked by the appearance of Paul, Graeme agrees to give Paul a ride, but Clive is not happy about the idea. Later, Lorenzo Zoil (Jason Bateman), a shady government agent, arrives at the site of the crashed car and informs his mysterious female superior over the radio that he’s closing in on Paul, and she recommends using local law enforcement as back-up. Zoil then recruits two inept FBI agents, Haggard (Bill Hader) and O’Reilly (Joe Lo Truglio), to aid in his mission, without telling them the nature of their target.
Graeme, Clive and Paul pull into a motor park run by Ruth Buggs (Kristen Wiig), a Christian fundamentalist, and her controlling father, Moses (John Carroll Lynch). The trio bond around their campgrill and Paul reveals that since he was captured by the government, he had been advising them in all manner of scientific and sociological achievements. Yet Paul had outlived his usefulness as a receptacle of knowledge, and his captors were intending to surgically remove Paul’s brain in an attempt to harness his abilities. With help from a friend inside Area 51, Paul sent an S.O.S. to his home planet, and he was escaping to meet up with them. The next morning, Paul inadvertently reveals himself to Ruth, and the trio are forced to kidnap her and make a hasty escape. Paul then shatters Ruth’s faith by sharing his knowledge of the universe via telepathic link; at first horrified, Ruth suddenly becomes eager to sin, which her father had raised her to fear doing. She initially doesn’t trust Paul, but he heals her eye, as she has been blind in it since the age of four.
Eventually, Paul reveals his intention to return to the girl whose dog he crashed his ship on in 1947 and who subsequently saved his life, who is now an old woman, Tara Walton (Blythe Danner). After spending her life being ridiculed for what she said she saw, Tara seems grateful to see that Paul simply exists. She turns her gas cooker on to make tea, but is interrupted by Haggard and O’Reilly on one side of the house, and Zoil on the other. As the motley crew escapes and drives off with Paul, O’Reilly shoots at them, and the gas ignites, destroying the house. A winded Zoil tries to follow, but Haggard takes off first, running Moses (who’d also been tracking the RV) off the road, and catching up to the RV. However, thanks to an error of judgement, Haggard accidentally drives off a cliff, and is presumably killed, leaving Zoil in hot pursuit. He reassures his superior that he’ll have Paul within an hour, but she declares herself tired of waiting, and informs Zoil that she’s ordered a military response.
When Paul, Graeme, Clive, Ruth and Tara arrive at the rendezvous, they set off a signal and wait. Eventually, eerie orange lights show up over the surrounding trees, and everyone believes that it is Paul’s race. However, it is an army helicopter, with ‘the Big Guy’ (Sigourney Weaver) on board, Zoil’s shadowy superior. As she and three troops move to shoot Paul, Zoil arrives, and it’s revealed that he was Paul’s inside contact who had helped him to escape. Zoil disarms the men, but is shot in the shoulder. Tara punches out ‘the Big Guy’, but Moses appears with a shotgun and shoots Graeme dead. Paul heals him and then collapses, exhausted. Paul seems to be dead and everyone is silent until he coughs, to the relief of all. ‘The Big Guy’ regains consciousness, but is immediately crushed by the arriving alien ship. Paul begins to depart and informs Tara that she is going with him to live a better life and bids farewell to his friends hoping to meet them again one day. Two years later, Graeme, Clive, Ruth and even O’Reily (with a scarred face from the house explosion) are shown again at the 2011 Comic-Con convention, promoting their new mega-successful novel, Paul.
We’ve all seen alien flicks, right? What about alien merchandise? It is kind of hard to have not seen at least something that has been plastered with the default alien image, but that image, according to this film, is Paul.
I really wanted to see this when it came out. These days it seems like people are afraid to make a funny comedy, at least not without it turning into a drama halfway thorough and never getting back to the funny. No worries about that with Paul.
This flick starts off funny, has a few moments of touching bonding that is to be expected from a quasi-buddy movie, and then gets right back to the funny. On top of that, there is some slapstick and sight gags here that really can have you on the floor rolling.
I was a little disappointed with the special effects here. Sure, Paul looks great, but I guess I was expecting some kind of fantastic, over-the-top alien technology like in Mars Attacks, rather than the subdued subtleties as in something like E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.
Having said that, Paul’s powers sort of make-up for that. It seemed like everytime something happened we learned about some other fabulous power he possessed. No wonder the government wanted to slice him up and get the secrets. Come to think of it, I think they just wanted to slice him up for the fun of it. That seems to be more their style.
Pacing is pretty good. There aren’t any places that drag the film down. I’ve mentioned earlier how there is a scene that breaks from the comedy, but that doesn’t do anything other than help tie up some loose ends in the plot and whatnot. It doesn’t affect how the film moves along at all.
I liked the story. Knowing how cynical people are these days, I’m sure there are people who would have preferred this story to go in a totally different direction, but not me. Although, it would have been nice to see him harvest some farts (a joke Paul makes when they meet him initially).
You know these days when you have a comedy, you pretty much call in any of these actors (not counting Simon Pegg and Nick Frost). Seriously, look at almost any comedy from the past 3-5 yrs and I would bet you’d find someone’s there and here.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just an observation.
People said that when Seth Rogen lost weight, he lost his ability to be funny (now they say that about Jonah Hill). That was certainly obvious with The Green Hornet, but here it shows that he can still do it. Of course, since Paul was animated, it is possible he recorded his lines while he was still a fat guy.
British comedic actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are hilarious as these two sci-fi geeks from, yep, you guessed it, England. Their wide-eyed naivite and chemistry with both Paul and Kristen Wiig really made the film click.
In the end Paul is a good time. No, this isn’t you father’s alien flick, but it is hilarious. Sure there are some issues here and there, but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Look for a couple of surprise cameos, one is only a voice, but it is in a very funny scene. Do I think you should see this? Oh yes, most definitely! I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
4 out of 5 stars