March 18, 2011

Paul - 2011

Director: Greg Mottola
Writers: Simon Pegg & Nick Frost
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman, Bill Heder, Blythe Danner, Sigourney Weaver, Jane Lynch, Jeffrey Tambor

"There is an alien in the kitchenette making bagels and coffee." Two British nerds (Pegg & Frost) come to America to attend San Diego Comic-Con and tour some alleged UFO crash sites, but their innocent journey becomes comedically perilous when they encounter Paul (Rogen), an alien escapee from Area 51 desperately in need of a ride home.

I walked out of the movie feeling like it was tailor-made for me. Pegg and Frost are just as great a writing duo as Pegg and Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), and they've brought us a rich and hilarious script that no performance other than their own could do justice to. There's a few movie-related jokes the rest of the audience didn't seem to get (Lorenzo's Oil, Mac & Me, Capturing the Friedmans), and even a certain rather well-known sci-fi film, but there's plenty of laughs left over for all audiences; even Lynch and Tambor, who have less than a combined ten minutes of screentime, make the most of every second. The visual effects team did a great job with the alien, to the point where you never get the feeling he's just a tennis ball on a stick. After 53 episodes of bleep, it's a great pleasure to hear former Michael Bluth's sailor's mouth come out. However, Wiig's the true scene stealer here, with a not-quite-over-the-top portrayal of a Christian fundamentalist who meets our heroes clad in a shirt depicting Jesus shooting Darwin in the head. Mottola replied to me on Twitter last night, and I took it as a sign to see this over Cedar Rapids. It was one of the best decisions I've made all year. A+

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