After basking in the nerdom of Comic-Con, Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) hit the road on a UFO tour of the United States. On the way, as happens only in movies like this, they serendipitously run into the real thing. Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) has been living in a government facility for decades since he crash landed on Earth. Now he’s escaped, and he’s enlisted these two nerds to get him home.
Along the way the pair will run into a bible-thumping trailer park manager (John Carroll Lynch) and his one-eyed daugher (Kristen Wiig) and have to stay one-step ahead of the government agents (Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Joe Lo Truglio) hot on their trail.
One thing Paul has going for it (and perhaps relies on too much) is a love of sci-fi films. There are several nods sci-fi nerds will recognize and appreciate scattered throughout the film’s 104-minute running time (and one special phoned-in cameo which I won’t spoil here). Along with these clever moments come a plethora of cheap jokes and gags, some of which made me chuckle and some of which made me shake my head at the kind of lazy writing usual reserved for late night television and ABC sitcoms.
What’s a little maddening is I can’t tell you what I enjoyed about the film without giving away too much of the plot or ruining gags from the film. Rest assured, there are moments worth savoring here. I just wish there were more of them.
Paul is a mixed success targeted at a select audience (if you’re out of college and have action figures prominently displayed on your shelf this one’s for you). Those who enjoy nerdy fan-driven films such as Fanboys should feel right at home. Will it make you laugh? Yes. Will it make you groan? Definitely.
In the end I’m glad I saw Paul. Even with its flaws it’s still an enjoyable, if slightly frustrating, time at the movies. Keep your expectations low, try not to compare this to Pegg and Frost’s earlier collaborations, and you should be fine. Oh, and may the Force be with you…always.