There’s something about Paul. Rude? Yes. Smart-ass? Definitely. Lazy? Inarguably. Cocky? You bet. Sounds like the guy you sit next to in English class? Possibly. Except, of course, Paul is an alien. A rude, smart-ass, lazy, cocky alien. With a heart of gold.
At Quality 16 and Rave
This is fairly unusual for a movie alien. After all, aliens are typically supposed to be scary monsters with a bunch of different mouths that eat children for breakfast and are sent to probe us and harvest our planet for resources. But the only resources that Paul (voiced by Seth Rogan, “Pineapple Express”), star of the movie of the same name, has been harvesting since his accidental arrival on planet Earth in the ’80s are beer and marijuana. And the result is one fantastic film.
In a fateful accident that will change all of their lives forever, British sci-fi geeks Graeme Willy and Clive Gollings (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, respectively, “Shaun of the Dead”) discover Paul smoking in a cornfield by the side of the road. After Paul asks for their assistance in returning home, the two best mates decide to take a detour from their road-trip vacation through America’s UFO heartland to help the green guy out.
Little do they know that Paul is being followed by a determined government agent, Zoil (Jason Bateman, TV’s “Arrested Development”), and FBI screw-ups Haggard (Bill Hader, TV’s “Saturday Night Live”) and O’Reilly (Joe Lo Truglio, “Superbad”). Behind them is a crazed Christian father bent on reclaiming his daughter, one-eyed former fundamentalist Ruth Buggs (Kristen Wiig, TV’s “Saturday Night Live”), who joins Paul’s party and starts a romance with Graeme.
Add in cameos from Jane Lynch (TV’s “Glee”), Blythe Danner (“Meet the Fockers”) and Sigourney Weaver (the heroine of the original “Alien” movies), and you have one hilariously epic car chase adventure story that will keep audiences laughing long after they leave the theater.
The film’s genius is largely due to its unforgettable cast of eccentric characters and performances. Graeme and Clive, thought to be gay by just about everyone they meet, demonstrate a friendship that is both hysterical and moving. They do this primarily by breaking stereotypes about straight male friendships and British culture. Perfectly embodying the modern bromance, they are very open about their regard for one another. They are unafraid to reveal their true feelings — like when Clive becomes jealous of Graeme for seemingly moving on without him, as Graeme discovered both the girl and the alien.
But the real showstopper is Ruth Buggs, whose character is one of the most imaginative in any comedy to date. Specifically, her decision to convert to atheism and subsequent inability to swear properly due to lack of experience provide limitless entertainment and new phrases that will likely catch on around college campuses everywhere. Then there are the clueless FBI agents who just can’t seem to get it right, in the best way possible. Last but not least is Paul, whose originality is rivaled only by that of the film itself.
“Paul” does more than just make viewers laugh out loud. Director Greg Mottola (“Superbad”) and writers Pegg and Frost have made a film that is both humorous and touching, exploring themes of friendship, integrity and embracing change wherever it finds you — even in a cornfield.