Friday, February 17, 2012
Paul is unique first because it's a road movie in which the title character is an alien. Second, it's because the film is a combination of the Judd Apatow factory and the Simon Pegg-Nick Frost brand. Regardless of whether this sounds good or bad, the result is that the merge doesn't really work. Pegg and Frost (who also wrote the screenplay) are hilarious early when it's just the pair of them on screen. But when Kristen Wiig and Seth Rogen (who plays the alien) enter the story, Pegg and Frost lose a lot of their comic power. True, the comic talent is doubled, but Wiig has a one-joke role, while Rogen just a CGI creature from outer space. When Paul works, it is often hilarious, but it's too often weighed down by its wide array of comedy performers. Besides the four I mentioned, there's Jason Bateman and Bill Hader as agents trying to track down Paul, as well as John Carroll Lynch as Wiig's Jesus-loving dad. For a movie that's under two hours, there's just not enough time to figure out how to make these characters funny. Their presence is not enough. But, as I said, everyone has a few scenes that work really well, and the story offers a new take on the road movie-plus, there's plenty of great references to old sic-fi movies, the having to be Frost comparing his excitement to the first time he saw Mac and Me.