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Paul (2011)

Who's up for a close encounter?

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 104 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

Paul is an alien and he’s on the run from Area 51. After being a secret guest of planet earth for over fifty years the nicely stereotypical alien learns that some nasty plans are afoot so he escapes. Followed by tenacious Special Agent Lorenzo Zoil (Bateman) and incompetent Agents O’Reilly (Lo Truglio) and Haggard (Hader), Paul bumps into Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) – two British comic-book geeks touring UFO sighting hotspots. After becoming buddies, Clive and Graeme help Paul evade the law but things get complicated further when they pick up Ruth, a God-botherer turned believer, with her psychotic Dad (Koechner) in relentless pursuit.

Fair play to them casting Seth Rogen as Paul – they took a chance and it mostly paid off. They could’ve played safe and used the usual otherworldly alien voice or gone for the easy laughs with an alien thesp but instead they play up to the alien’s slacker qualities. The CGI alien (Rogen in a suit) is seamlessly integrated into the real world and he really does come across as just another cast member.  Amongst the humanoids, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have lost none of the chemistry and camaraderie that make them enjoyable to watch and they’re ably supported by a very recognisable cast including Hader portraying familiar ineptitude and Koechner doing crazy Jesus-basher very well. 

There are plenty of references to keep sci-fi fans (not geeks – I do not judge) busy throughout the movie – I probably spotted barely fifty-percent of what was on offer. The finale is a bit of a mushy happily-ever-after cop-out but I suppose a darker ending would not have fit in with the feelgood factor of the rest of the movie. Also, you feel that Pegg and Frost are pandering to a lower caste of viewer (I hesitate to say – American) as their humour is less subtle and more reliant on sight gags and swearies than their previous work. Overall, it’s pretty lightweight and a little flawed but a well-acted and enjoyable watch nonetheless.

It's Got: Consistent laughs, a lot of Sci-fi references, slightly dumbed down humour

It Needs: A less soppy ending


If you can get past the Marmite casting of Seth Rogen as Paul the alien you will find this comedy likeable and consistently funny if not a little dumbed down.