Sunday, March 13, 2011

Paul (2011, Greg Mottola)

There are two things on this earth that really pump me up--that's a lie. There is an endless amount of stuff on this humble planet we call Earth to give me that set of goosebumps, that tingle in the spine, that massive adrenaline bon--forget it, let's just cut to the chase.

Two things that instantly put my ass in the seat for a movie are nerdy, science fiction fare, and maybe more importantly, humor. Cinematically speaking, if you can't laugh at it, chances are it could be cooler... unless it has a giant scale alien war or a monster destroying everything it sees.

So, imagine my joy a little while back (7-8 months we'll say) when I was exposed to a leaked script of Paul, the next film from Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead alums Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Being an OUTRAGEOUS fan of the previous two films (Hot Fuzz is in my top ten of all time, but that post is for another day), I was immediately on board. Then, much to my COMPLETE EUPHORIA, Seth Rogen was added to the project. Anybody who knows me knows that I have an unwavering love of anything and everything that man touches, making Paul a serious candidate for best movie of all time (another title which, upon knowing me is immediately considered worthless).

After waiting and waiting and waiting, the day finally came. I caught a screening of the movie on the 2nd of March and, let me tell you, Paul is OUT OF THIS WORLD GOOD.

Let me start by asking you this--what is cooler than movies where people fart, talk about masturbation and penises, cuss their eyeballs out and in the end win at everything? Nothing, or so I thought. it turns out this entire genre of film (whatever the "winning at cussing masturbation farts" genre is officially titled) can in fact be improved upon. How do you ask? By including an ALIEN who smokes stupid amounts of pot and is generally an asshole to everyone he meets.

The film itself is fairly generic; it's just a road trip movie about two nerds trying to find themselves as well as celebrate their friendship. Where the filmmakers got smart was when they introduced our new friend, Paul (voiced by Rogen... rad) almost immediately. Approximately ten minutes into the film he was already part of the "plot." This is where, compositionally-speaking, the film runs into some problems. it seems like there is never any real clear path. The characters are literally just told that they need to go north. In typical road trip comedy fashion, nobody really questions it (they protest occasionally, but it is quickly shot down). It's not very well thought out. It seems like most of the stops on the trip merely serve as way to get in good jokes. But really who cares?

As the movie progresses, we see a lot of funny, nerd-related pop culture jokes, car chases, gun battles, people getting their faith stolen away from the by alien powers (then restored), alien contact and an awesome explosion. None of that stuff is groundbreaking or special in any way. It just seems to be there serving the bigger piece of the puzzle. That bigger piece is Paul. Pegg and Frost take a very large double backseat to Rogen who expertly voices Paul, turning him from any sort alien threat you've been exposed to in your movie going life to a pot head who likes to make fun of people. Now, before you protest the stupidity of not only that character, but the film, think about this. If aliens do land here someday, do you want them to be super intelligent and either lay waste to the earth or take all of mankind as test subjects? Both of those options sound like they suck. Now, what if they showed up, made fun of your penis and rolled a fatty with you? The choice seems easy to me.

Long story short, while the film is pretty generic, and the plot doesn't hold up all that well, it is FUNNY. Any flaws the film has aesthetically are completely forgiven when Paul discusses the difficulties of a bon-- you get the idea. -- ***½ / 4 stars

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