Paul (15, 104 mins)
Director: Greg Mottola
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
But driving through the desert one night, they come across a runaway alien who goes by the name of Paul (computer generated and voiced by Seth Rogen). They go on the run with him, picking up Ruth (Kristen Wiig) on the way, with the government giving chase as well as Ruth’s father and a pair of rednecks.
Beyond that setup, there’s no real plot to speak of, simply a collection of daft set pieces. So it’s just as well that most of what we do get is so entertaining, with some very funny individual lines and moments.
With the vibe of Pegg and Frost’s Spaced, it’s a nicely British take on what’s usually a very American genre, though is it possible the pair are getting just a little long in the tooth to still be playing these guys? It’s their first movie together without Edgar Wright at the helm, and Frost and Pegg also collaborate on a screenplay for the first time.
It’s possible that Wright could have brought a little more pizzazz to proceedings, just as he did with his own recent Anglo-American effort, Scott Pilgrim. He may also have brought a little more polish to a script that’s funny but ultimately rather aimless, one that’s maybe a bit too quick to go for a swear instead of something clever.
Elsewhere, it’s positively bursting with movie references, with practically everything Steven Spielberg has made getting a nod. Apparently Paul has spent much of his time on earth giving sci-fi writers ideas, and one of the best gags sees him on the phone to Spielberg giving him the plot to ET.
There can be no getting away from the fact that Paul is pretty much a one joke movie, the joke being that there’s a smoking, swearing alien with the voice of Seth Rogen. The incongruity of Rogen’s booming tones coming from an archetypal little green man, and his way with words, generates frequent big laughs. If that’s not quite sufficient to hang an entire film on, it’s still enough to provide two hours of undemanding fun. Great title too.