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Screen » Film

He Ain't ET: Paul effectively smashes Hollywood's alien stereotypes



When it comes down to it, with a movie like Paul, only one thing truly matters: that it makes you laugh. Were there times when you laughed out loud? And the true test of a film like Paul, did you laugh consistently through the whole film, or were most of the jokes wasted in the preview? Remember that in a dorky stoner comedy, technical details don't really impact your enjoyment of the film, as long as the movie makes you laugh.

Paul follows Graeme and Clive (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), two sci-fi-loving man-boys visiting America for Comic Con. The pair's pilgrimage includes a roadtrip to various southwestern UFO hot spots. If you weren't a Shaun of the Dead fan, no worries; Superbad director Greg Mottola takes the helm here to create an accessible and hilarious road trip comedy. The comedy starts off slow, but soon the two Brits meet Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), an alien whose ship crash-landed on earth 60 years earlier. Paul has been held prisoner on a top-secret military base and acts as a consultant to Hollywood filmmakers. Now, if he doesn't want the government to harvest his supernatural abilities, he must escape the planet.

Paul is a rude practical joker with a dirty mouth that may or may not remind you of your stoner friends from high school. For an alien, Paul seems kind of plain, which may be one of the film's biggest faults. Sure, he can go invisible when he holds his breath and can transfer his wealth of knowledge to you with a touch, but he's basically a human with a gigantic head. Paul gets winded when he runs because he's a smoker and has a similar anatomy to humans. It seems to me that Paul could have been a bit more "alien." Ironically, Paul spends most of the movie battling the stereotypes about aliens he helped create in pop culture.

On their way to return Paul to his spaceship, the trio encounters Ruth Buggs (SNL's Kristen Wiig), a sheltered creationist. Ruth ends up coming along for the ride once she discovers what Paul is. Not surprisingly, her world gets turned upside down as his existence runs contrary to everything she believes. Wiig, who could be considered the modern queen of awkward comedy, steals the show, earning the most laughs as she puts on one of her best performances. Her attempts at cursing are some of the funniest moments throughout the entire film.

At times, Paul can be super nerdy, but with the help of an amazing supporting cast the film overcomes any reservations you may have about seeing a comedy about aliens.



Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost,
Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig.

Directed by Greg Mottola.

Rated R

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Anne Pick

Music Writer | The Source Weekly

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