It was a neurobiologist who told me I should see this movie. I’d skipped it when it hit town, but reconsidered when my friend told me how funnily the film took on young-earth creationism. It’s a testimony to my evolutionary geekiness that this was all it took to get me into the theater to see Paul.
I’m glad I went. This movie is smarter and funnier than I thought it would be (though I’d enjoyed both Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, the two previous films of this movie’s starring duo). Paul is basically a “road trip” picture concerning two English buddies who have come to America to visit famous “alien” sites in a rented RV. It’s giving nothing away to reveal that they end up acquiring a genuine alien (Paul) as their travel companion.
Along the way (for reasons ridiculous and entertaining) the trio “abducts” the latently adventuress daughter of a fire-and-brimstone cartoon-character version of an Evangelical Fundamentalist father that runs a campground. What is bracing about this film is the direct, matter of fact way in which Paul confronts the young-earth-creationist beliefs of the daughter (played by Saturday Night Live’s Kristen Wig). I’m thinking this bold confrontation of irrational belief is due to the English sensibilities of the main players (and writers) Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. There is clearly no fear of sacrificing an American sacred cow or two.
I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. There is not a surplus of scatological humor that the presence of Seth Rogan (the voice of Paul) might suggest. It’s a pleasantly over-the-top view of gullible America viewed through the eyes of a couple of average English “Joes”. And though there is much more to the film than Kristen Wig’s characters blossoming after her “conversion” from fundamentalism, the journey of her character adds real spice to the proceedings.
Though slipping out of theaters, Paul should be out of DVD soon.