Known more as the “Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead Guys,” Nick Frost and Simon Pegg have a solid track history of working together. Not only did they star together in the classic aforementioned films, but Pegg also co-wrote those screenplays with director Edgar Wright.
While I absolutely love the Pegg / Frost / Wright trio, Paul has made something clearly evident – Pegg and Frost are more than worthy to be starring in their films, but without Wright, their screenplays just aren’t that great. As Pegg and Frost banged out Paul on their own, it simply does not come close to reaching the caliper that Fuzz and Shaun achieved. On the other hand, while Pegg and Frost were working on Paul, Wright pumped out his best film yet – Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Pegg and Frost have come up with some brilliant ideas, but Wright is the guy who fine polishes and properly executes their projects.
In Paul, Pegg and Frost play Graeme Willy and Clive Gollings, respectively, two British lifelong friends who are finally living their geek dream of visiting America, hitting up Comic Con, meeting their favorite fantasy author and taking an RV road trip across the Southwest to famous alien encounter hot spots. They are the gayest straight guys since J.D. and Turk on Scrubs.
After passing through Area 51 territory and taking pictures at the “Black Mailbox,” Graeme and Clive witness the horrific rollover of a black military vehicle with tinted windows. While checking the wreckage for survivors they meet the passenger who caused the accident, a little green alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen, The Green Hornet) that is hellbent on getting out of there quickly before the “Big Guy” shows up.
Paul crash-landed in Moorcroft, Wyoming in 1947. Since then, he has been held in a top-secret military facility. Over 60 years later, the military now believes they have learned everything Paul’s advanced mind can teach them, so they plan to harvest his organs, mind and stem cells to see what they can learn from him physically. Fighting to keep his alien powers from falling into the “Big Guy”‘s hands, Paul needs Graeme and Clive to risk all, taking him back to a safe location where he can flag his people and go back home. Hot on their pursuit is Agent Zoil (Jason Bateman, The Switch) and couple of idiotic, low-level FBI agents looking to make it to the big leagues (SNL‘s Bill Hader and I Love You, Man‘s Joe Lo Truglio).
Both being real-life textbook geeks, Pegg and Frost are perfect for their roles. Although mostly playing a silent and stern secret agent, Bateman owns his scenes – especially a few that require him to randomly spout out unexpected vulgarities. Hader and Lo Truglio are brilliant – so much so that you wish they could have had more scenes. But the best comedic performance comes from SNL‘s Kristen Wiig, a one-eyed “Jesus freak” that Graeme, Clive and Paul kidnap as a safety measure.
The least of all the performances comes from Rogen as Paul. As you would expect, although voicing a little green man, Rogen plays Rogen – a potty-mouth pot-smoking alien who talks more about sex and drugs than he does the dangerous mission at hand. The character of Paul is the weakest part about Paul.
Anyone looking forward to seeing Pegg and Frost together on the big screen again should still get out to see Paul – just don’t expect a film in the same caliper as Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. And while Paul is not even close to being as great as Fuzz and Shaun, it is still a fun adventure filled with laughs, twists and a whole lot of geek-tastic pop culture references.
Photo credit: Universal Pictures