Film Review: Paul
Directed by Greg Mottola
Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Jason Bateman and Kristen Wigg
by Jack Gregson
Can Pegg and Frost work without Edgar Wright? After Scott Pilgrim, it’s clear that he can work without them, but apart from Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, have Pegg and Frost done anything vaguely interesting? Nothing really jumps to mind (and Star Trek was not Pegg’s movie). I should mention that the film was unfinished when I saw it so this review could be for a completely different film when it is actually released. We follow two geeks Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) on a trip across America when they come across an alien, Paul (Rogen) who needs their help to get himself back to his home planet.
The film is definitely not what I wanted to see from Pegg and Frost, it’s not the third in the Cornetto trilogy at all. The biggest problem is that the two main characters are just too bland to carry a movie, Pegg and Frost have no charm when set against an American backdrop; they come off as dumb and condescending. In their British films they were lovable slackers, but here they are just boring, I honestly could not tell you anything about the characters. Pegg’s character shares an undeveloped romance with Kristen Wigg which only hurts the film, it comes out of nowhere and just goes from there. It’s sad to think that in a film written and starring two of Britain’s hottest comic properties that the whole film is stolen by the American cast, Rogen and Bateman are both hysterical in their roles (especially Bateman, who really steals the film) with Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio adding some nice comedic moments in their small roles.
Whilst Shaun and Fuzz were fun and loving parodies of their respective genres, there really isn’t much parody to be found here, it’s just a sci-fi comedy, a cheap excuse to make some alien jokes and a few quick references to classic sci-fi movies (including a very funny use of the Mos Eisley Cantina theme) but there is no real commentary about the stereotypes of the genre which is something I have enjoyed greatly in the previous Pegg and Frost collaborations. The film is definitely funny, but the jokes are sporadic and at points the laughs felt forced but there is definitely some charm in Rogen’s frat boy/spoilt kid alien character and perhaps paired with Bateman throughout the whole movie there would have been far more laughs, but with the company he shares in the movie, the humour quickly wares thin.
The film does feel like a mess and the ending needs a lot of work (there is a twist you see coming a mile off and everything is resolved far to quickly for there to be any sort of payoff) but the film isn’t finished yet and there is a chance it can be mildly saved. The idea is great but the way it’s played out doesn’t quite work, like Ricky Gervais, Pegg and Frost don’t seem to really fit into an American comedy movie and perhaps they need a director who has far greater visual style than Mottola (I love Superbad and Adventureland but the mans visuals are nothing when compared to Wright’s). The film is nice, but offers very little to fans of Pegg and Frost.