If you sit at home and read Lord of the Rings instead of going out with friends, don’t worry. If you own every incarnation of Star Trek and have seen all of them more than 30 times, don’t fear.
If your blood boils when you hear someone talk about their love of the Star Wars prequels, it will be okay — Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have your back.
“Paul,” the new film written by Pegg and Frost and directed by Greg Mottola (“Superbad”), is a gushing love letter to science fiction and an incredibly witty one at that.
The film follows Graeme Willy (Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Frost), two sci-fi geeks, as they roadtrip across some of the most famous alien sightings in the U.S. but get in over their heads when they find Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), a captive space alien trying to escape from the government.
While the story can be predictable at times, “Paul” pays great homage to the classics which came before it but also successfully skewers every trope and cliche that appear in science fiction films. For instance, when Clive first sees Paul, his gut reaction is,”He looks too obvious!”
Pegg and Frost are also able to seamlessly weave specific references to culture in and out of
dialogue, riffing on the obvious -Star Wars, Star Trek, E.T.- but reaching far beyond into the obscure with references to “Mork and Mindy,” “Duel,” the “Metroid” series and even James Joyce. One would almost certainly need multiple viewings to catch every reference.
As always, Pegg and Frost have wonderful chemistry together and impeccable comedic timing.
Rogen was the perfect choice to voice the wise-cracker Paul and delivers a performance of much higher caliber than his recent cinema fare. Kristen Wiig gives what may be the funniest performance of her career.
Equally as entertaining is the multitude of celebrity cameos that appear in the movie, each with an incredibly funny bit. There are appearances from the likes of Jeffrey Tambor and Jason Bateman (“Arrested
Development”), Jane Lynch (“Glee”), David Koechner (“Anchorman”), Bill Hader (“SNL”), and Sigourney Weaver (“Alien”), among others.
All in all, you could do much worse than to go see “Paul.” Sure, it can be a bit predictable and you have to know a fairly large amount of pop culture to get every single reference, but it still provides enough laughs to keep almost anyone sustained. “Paul” is yet another beaming success in a career full of them for Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
Reach reviewer Nathan Hoffman at Nathan.Hoffman@usd.edu