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Review: Paul

PUBLISHED: 14:19 19 February 2011 | UPDATED: 14:19 19 February 2011

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Archant

Simon Pegg's latest collaboration with Nick Frost is a kind of geek Four Weddings And A Funeral, a transatlantic love-in over a shared enthusiasm for all things sci-fi.

Pegg and Frost are on a holiday of a lifetime attending Comic-Con before embarking on a road trip in a rented RV to all the main sites of UFO interest, culminating at Area 51.

Their trip is disrupted by meeting Paul, a wise-cracking, smart-ass extraterrestrial (voiced by Seth Rogen) who has escaped from Area 51 and is looking to get back to his own planet.

Now if that sounds like your idea of a good time then I can recommend it with some confidence. Paul is exactly the film you’d expect it to be. it makes all the references you’d expect it to make, it makes all the jokes you’d expect it to make and has exactly the same surprise guest star you’d expect it to have.

This is Pegg and Frost’s third film collaboration but the first not directed by Edgar Wright. There is none of the spark or verve of Shaun of The Dead or Hot Fuzz. Paul is a very cosy, comforting creation.

The film has two sets of clichés to mow through, not only all the sci-fi ones but also the cultural ones – Americans always assume that Pegg and Frost are gay, the locals are either gun-toting rednecks or gun-toting Fundamentalist Christian rednecks. Christianity gets a very hard time in Paul.

This anti-faith mocking would carry more force if the film wasn’t so indulgent of a belief in government conspiracies and little green men from space and if it didn’t conclude with – big spoiler – a tatty little resurrection scene.)

The only slight twist is that, in featuring a wise-cracking smart-assed alien who is stuck on a planet he doesn’t understand, Paul is something of a contemporary Howard The Duck (or Howard, a new Breed of Hero, if you only know the British title) the cult comic character who became a flop George Lucas movie in the 1980s.

It’s not great but it is OK, though it is fundamentally as unexciting as a film called Paul has to be.

Paul (15)

Director: Greg Mottola

With: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and Blythe Danner

Length: 104 mins

***

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