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18th February 2011

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Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead) team up with American comedian Seth Rogen (Knocked Up) and others as they attempt to unite the two markets either side of the Atlantic by making Paul.

Pegg and Frost are two nerdy comic-book fans who embark on a UFO-themed road trip of the USA, take fugitive alien Paul under their wing as he escapes his captures.

Paul is wanted by the government for research but is trying to get home. Along the way, Ruth Buggs (Kristen Wiig) is picked up by the now three fugitives as she learns to embrace science and discard her ‘crazy’ ideas about evolution and God.

Viewers of the TV shows American Dad and Futurama will be aware of the gag of an alien or robot having hilariously human traits. This is the source of most of the humour. It isn’t an original concept then to have an all-talking, smoking, bagel-eating alien who makes a great cup of coffee. Nor is it original to have a film orientated around two kooky best friends who are on a road trip (did someone say Dumb and Dumber?) However, it doesn’t really matter. For around an hour and a half, Pegg and Frost’s British wit mixes perfectly with Rogen’s American banter to make an unpretentious and genuinely funny film.

It does, however, occasionally trip into the absurd with a very random bar fight with sailors and a chaotic and low-budget fire fight near the end. A flimsy sub-plot of bad guys in black suits speaking vague code words, reminding one of SPECTRE from the early Bond films, feels a little tacked on and is completely neglected.

The one thing that is treated seriously is science as it stands in direct opposition to religion. Writers Pegg and Frost conduct a slightly tired and repetitive lampooning of religion, painting it as an absurd concept suitable only for hillbillys and the domestically oppressed. This is a totally one-way fight that slightly blemishes an otherwise refreshingly lackadaisical comedy.

There are constant references to science-fiction which, though it may tickle those ‘in the know’, may well leave others feeling left out. The animation that has been done on the alien is terrific and helps to make the film a smooth and easy watch.

The film is unpredictable in a very good way. Characters drift in and out of situations with little cause but we don’t really mind; there is always a funny one-liner from Rogen to keep us at ease. In watching Paul, we can sit back and enjoy what is an unpredictable, relaxed and funny film.   

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