As an unofficial capper to the pop culture bash that has been “Shaun of the Dead,” and “Hot Fuzz,” I wish I could bring greater tidings to fans of Pegg and Frost who anxiously awaited their third foray in to another genre adventure, but as it stands “Paul” is merely an okay movie. It’s not the worst comedy of the year, but it’ll far from be remotely remembered as the supreme comedy the gentlemen Nick Frost and Simon Pegg partook in. “Paul” feels like a watered down dose of Edgar Wright fare and unfortunately without him in the equation, this third outing as a team doesn’t entirely succeed as a comedy.
Sure it manages to be abundantly cute and has some above average humor, but none of it ever translates in to raucous laughter as the previous films with Frost and Pegg. The rest is merely Spielberg fetishizing that seems to take an enormous amount of time to pay tribute to Spielberg without ever providing a logical reason for doing so. The alien character Paul is essentially just ET, except he’d rather smoke and drink and drop F bombs like it’s the end of the world rather than phone home and eat Reeses Pieces. When two UFO/Science Fiction nerds head to Area 51 after a major science fiction convention, they accidentally stumble on to Paul who’d survived a massive car crash barely evading the authorities seeking his ownership. After they meet, their friendship is uneasy and not too hilarious as you’d expect.
Pegg and Frost never opt for enough laughs and one-liners to sell this as their official third genre romp in to a beloved medium, and all of the good comedy goes to Paul. As voiced by Seth Rogen, Paul is the centerpiece of the comedy thus his personality basically outweighs any chance Pegg and Frost have at delivering comedy for their loyal fan base. And even with the hard R rating and the foul mouthed talking alien who’d rather act out male on male fellatio than say the word “gay” for the sake of comedy, “Paul” feels very lived in and worn. It’s almost like the director attempted to mimic the devices of pop culture love that Edgar Wright and his cohorts mastered. And instead of merely offering up a loving tribute to alien films, just insisted on detaching the pop culture celebrating from the actual plot rather than integrating it in to character motivations and situations.
Director Mottola can never seem to decide where his homages and nods to alien culture end and his story begins, thus even with the rating and countless cameos by comedic actors, there’s really nothing all too funny about this. Sure it’s clever, but clever never actually amounts to laughter when it comes to “Paul.” With director Greg Mottola at the helm and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost writing, “Paul” has a lot going for it. Unfortunately it’s not a lot of laughter or entertainment value. Granted it has clever gags, and some sharp puns, but in the end it’s pretty stale alien fare with not much originality to offer audiences.