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Paul (2011)

aka Paul

"Who's up for a close encounter?"

Directed By: 
Written By: 
Details: 104 mins · English · R (USA)

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ET's Dick of a Cousin

Paul is a misleading movie right out of the gate. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the brilliant people behind such wonderful films as Sean of the Dead and World's End, are presented as the main protagonists, and, considering the nerdy nature of the piece, you would then assume that this is their creation. However, on closer inspection, the movie is actually directed by the same individual behind Superbad, which more or less explains why this is so lack-luster.

The premise of this flick, if it isn't obvious, is that our dynamic duo of nerds run into Paul, a stereotypical alien, who needs help getting off the planet; it's like ET ran into two fully-grown men instead of a little boy... and ET was an asshole. And that's more or less the story. Little changes throughout, beyond some car chases, the female love interest being presented, and a couple of additional baddies added mid-way through the film. The movie tries to set up as many jokes as possible, even when they don't necessarily make se...(more)

Paul is a misleading movie right out of the gate. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the brilliant people behind such wonderful films as Sean of the Dead and World's End, are presented as the main protagonists, and, considering the nerdy nature of the piece, you would then assume that this is their creation. However, on closer inspection, the movie is actually directed by the same individual behind Superbad, which more or less explains why this is so lack-luster.

The premise of this flick, if it isn't obvious, is that our dynamic duo of nerds run into Paul, a stereotypical alien, who needs help getting off the planet; it's like ET ran into two fully-grown men instead of a little boy... and ET was an asshole. And that's more or less the story. Little changes throughout, beyond some car chases, the female love interest being presented, and a couple of additional baddies added mid-way through the film. The movie tries to set up as many jokes as possible, even when they don't necessarily make sense in context, but they're all obnoxiously juvenile and by no means funny. The only joke I earnestly smiled at I remembered from a commercial two years ago split seconds before the punch line was delivered. Otherwise, it's gay slurs, cussing for no reason, and a really obnoxiously drawn out "joke" about how an alien with three tits is supposed to be "awesome" (which is stealing shamelessly from the infinitely better Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book series).

Almost the whole movie takes place in the RV the characters ride around in, so other than the RV parks and a few stores they step into, there's little in terms of variety of scenery. The characters are all pretty flat, but at least likable for the goofy people they are. The baddies are unconvincing, feeling harmless and unimaginative, acting only as a means for the plot to follow and the occasional opportunity for what this director passes up as "comedy".

And Paul is a who issue in and of himself. He's pretty unimaginative for an alien, and, admittedly, that was clearly a point that the film was making; he was meant to be the classic iteration because he's supposed to inspire that within our pop culture (the film claims). Yet, he acts human, talks like a normal human, behaves like just another dick... other than his powers, which are both incredibly unoriginal and only available when the movie needs it for the plot, he's just another flat human character at his core.

Plus, though the plot is pretty unoriginal and bland, it also doesn't make much sense. The Secret Service or whatever organization it is that goes after Paul utilizes a radio system to stay in touch, yet somehow other members of the organization and even a civilian is able to tune into the same station by happening to be on a specific radio station in their standard cars. Seriously, this makes no sense; why would a secret government organization allow that to happen? They would use a more secure line, especially if talking about extraterrestrials. The all of the characters are so damned stupid, half of the things that happened they could have avoided had they actually thought about what they were doing. Paul is constantly stepping out of the RV in broad daylight to deliver a joke or interact with another character, yet he's open exposing himself in a stupid fashion for stupid reason, which, for me, removed all urgency from the story. No one seems rushed or panicked unless, again, the plot asks for it, and it all feels rather artificial.

Also, something that really bugged me was how the term nerd was used as a curse or derogatory term here. It felt like it was used in the same way that the term "faggot" might be presented, which just kind of bothered me; it didn't feel natural, like something people would actually say anymore unless they were truly ignorant. Then again, these characters, as I've mentioned, tend to be.

This movie is fun enough, and I did make it to the end, but it doesn't nothing new, original, or interesting. Don't walk into this expecting another Pegg and Frost masterpiece, or you'll walk away disappointed. This is just another throw-away Friday night film for if you're really bored and need something to pass the time. (less)

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Obviously made by affectionate fans, but sometimes a little too much affection. The writers' (Pegg and Frost) habit of dropping in their favourite lines, shots and even entire sequences from fondly remembered '80s SF movies buries the script under a flood of references and becomes distracting. The whole plot is basically ET, but if ET were a frat boy. It's pretty dumb, and patronising towards the one female character.
It starts out as sweet and gently amusing, but gets more tiresome as it goes on.

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It had its moments of absolute hilarity and genius, but unfortunately also moments where it was borderline just TOO MUCH. I think in general I liked the idea but wasn't too keen on the execution.

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Cast:

Small Paul (voice)
Small Pat Stevenson
Small Ruth Buggs
Small Special Agent Lorenzo Zoil
Small Tara
Small Graeme Willy
Small Haggard
Small Tara Walton
Small Clive Gollings
Small Adam Shadowchild
Small Himself
Small Gus
No_movie_poster Adam Shadowchild Fan
Small Moses Buggs
Small O'Reilly
Small The Big Guy
Small Jake
Small Valet
No_movie_poster
No_movie_poster

Crew:

No_movie_poster Alison Jones Casting
No_movie_poster Anders J.L Beer Animation Supervisor
No_movie_poster Andy Hague Visual Effects Editor
No_movie_poster Carla Curry Set Decoration
No_movie_poster Catriona Richardson First Assistant Editor
No_movie_poster Cheryl Kurk Production Accountant
No_movie_poster Chris Dickens Editing
No_movie_poster David Arnold Music
No_movie_poster Debra Hayward Executive Producer
No_movie_poster Eric Fellner Producer
Small Greg Mottola Director
No_movie_poster Hal Couzens Visual Effects Supervisor
No_movie_poster Jefferson Sage Production Design
No_movie_poster Jody Johnson Visual Effects Supervisor
No_movie_poster Julian Slater Supervising Sound Editor
No_movie_poster Lawrence Sher Director of Photography
No_movie_poster Liza Chasin Executive Producer
No_movie_poster Natascha Wharton Executive Producer
No_movie_poster Nick Angel Music
Small Nick Frost Writer
No_movie_poster Nira Park Producer
No_movie_poster Peter F. Kurland Sound mixer
No_movie_poster Richard Fojo Art Direction
No_movie_poster Robert Graf Executive Producer
No_movie_poster S. Todd Christensen Location Manager
No_movie_poster Sheila G. Waldron Script Supervisor
Small Simon Pegg Writer
No_movie_poster Tania Blunden Post Production Supervisor
No_movie_poster Tim Bevan Producer

Taglines:

"Who's up for a close encounter?"

Plot:

Graeme Willy and Clive Gollings (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) are two British comic book enthusiasts and best friends who have traveled to the United States to attend the annual San Diego Comic-Con International and to take a road trip in their RV to visit sites of major extraterrestrial importance. When stopping for something to eat they meet two rednecks and when Graeme laughs with them they start tormenting him. They leave quickly and dent the rednecks' truck. At night, along the highway, they notice lights following them. Wrongly thinking the lights to be from the rednecks' dented truck they speed up, but it's actually a car that passes them and then crashes. They investigate the damaged car, and discover an alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), who is in desperate need of help.


Although shocked by the appearance of Paul, Graeme agrees to give Paul a ride, but Clive (who fainted after seeing Paul) is displeased about not being consulted about the idea. Later, United States Secret Service Agent Lorenzo Zoil (Jason Bateman) arrives at the site of the crashed car and informs his mysterious female superior, called the "Big Guy", over the radio that he is closing in on Paul, and she recommends using local law enforcement as back-up. She then recruits two inept rookie agents, Haggard (Bill Hader) and O'Reilly (Joe Lo Truglio), to aid in his mission, without informing them about the nature of their target. Zoil assures the Big Guy he can handle the problem himself, but the rookies are employed anyway.


Graeme, Clive and Paul pull into an RV park run by Ruth Buggs (Kristen Wiig), a Christian fundamentalist, and her over-bearing father, Moses (John Carroll Lynch). The trio bond around their camp grill and Paul reveals that since he was captured by the government, he had been advising them in all manner of scientific and sociological achievements. Having divulged everything that he knows, Paul has outlived his usefulness as a receptacle of knowledge, thus his captors intended to surgically remove Paul's brain and harvest his stem cells, in an attempt to harness his physical abilities (Paul had previously demonstrated both invisibility and healing powers). With the help from a friend inside Area 51, Paul sent an SOS to his home planet and was escaping to rendezvous with them.


The next morning, Paul intentionally reveals himself to Ruth during a theological discussion which turns into an argument, and the trio are forced to kidnap her and make a hasty escape. Moses sees Paul while the alien is trying to collect Clive's passport (that he left with Ruth after parking), and, believing him to be a demon, grabs his shotgun and chases after them in his truck. Paul shatters Ruth's faith by sharing his knowledge of the universe via a telepathic link; at first horrified, Ruth suddenly becomes eager to sin, which her father had raised her to fear doing. She initially does not trust Paul, but he heals her left eye, from which she was blind since the age of four.


When the foursome stop at a bar to rest, Ruth tries to make a phone call to her dad, but Zoil answers, as part of the operation to capture Paul. At the end of the phone call, in which Ruth gives no information, she runs into the rednecks, who show an ill-received interest in her. She evades them, and informs Graeme and Clive they need to leave. At this point, the rednecks run into the men again, and a fight starts. Moses is also at the bar, and he sees Ruth, but notices her eye. As he is so stunned, he fails to react and loses track of the trio as they dash for the RV. The rednecks chase them down, but Paul appears outside the RV. The two rednecks faint and they drive away. Later that night, Paul, Graeme, Ruth and Clive sit down together near an RV park. Ruth falls asleep but goes back to the RV. In the morning, Graeme and Clive find it difficult to hide Paul from a busy town. Paul goes into a comic book store with Clive as Graeme goes to pick up Ruth. Paul has to pose as a statue there while they wait.


Meanwhile, Ruth was asked questions by Agent Zoil, but lied and said she knew nothing of a one-eyed girl or two British "nerds". She and Graeme then drive into town to pick up Clive and Paul, but Paul had been exposed after he was caught by O'Reilly. Clive and Paul jump into the RV and narrowly escape the town; Haggard and O'Reilly report to Zoil. The rookies are asked to return to the base, but they want to catch the alien themselves. Moses is also in town, still trying to steal Ruth back, so he chases the RV. Clive and Graeme stop to buy fireworks at a shop but end up stealing them after Clive realizes they have no more American money.


Paul eventually reveals his intention to return to Tara Walton (Blythe Danner), a girl whose dog he crashed his ship on in 1947 and who subsequently saved his life, who is now an old woman. After spending her life being ridiculed for what she said she saw, Tara is grateful to see that Paul 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 Tara's house and seemingly killing O'Reilly. A winded Zoil attempts to follow, but Haggard takes off first, shooting at Moses, running him off the road and catching up to the RV. However, due to an error in judgement, Haggard accidentally drives off a cliff and is killed, leaving Zoil as the last remaining agent in pursuit. He reassures the Big Guy that he will have Paul within an hour, but she declares herself tired of waiting, and informs Zoil that she has ordered a military response.


When Paul, Graeme, Clive, Ruth and Tara arrive at Devils Tower National Monument, a location used in the sci-fi classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind. They set off fireworks to use as a signal and wait. Eventually, eerie orange lights show up over the surrounding trees, and everyone believes that it is Paul's rescue ship. However, it is an army helicopter, with the Big Guy (Sigourney Weaver) on board. As she and three troops move to shoot Paul, Zoil arrives, and it is revealed that he was Paul's inside contact who helped him to escape. Zoil disarms the men, but is shot in the shoulder by the Big Guy. Tara punches out the Big Guy, but Moses appears with his shotgun and mortally wounds Graeme while aiming at Paul. Paul heals him and collapses, briefly appearing to be dead before he quickly recovers; Moses proclaims this to be a miracle from God. The Big Guy regains consciousness, but is immediately crushed to death by the arriving alien ship. Paul begins to depart and informs Tara that she is coming with him to live a better life. He bids farewell to his friends, hoping to meet them again one day.


Two years later, Graeme, Clive, Ruth, and O'Reilly, who is revealed to have survived the explosion, are shown again at the Comic-Con convention, where Graeme and Clive are promoting Paul, their new hit novel.

Release Dates:

Theatrical : 2011-03-18 : United States of America

DVD : 2011-08-09