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DFI Film Review: Paul

Mar 31, 2011

Written by Reem Saleh, New Media, DFI

Film: Paul
Year: 2011
Director: Greg Mottola
Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Seth Rogen (voice of Paul)
Genre: Art House & International, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Comedy
Rated: R rated for bad language, sexual references and drug use.

Two English sci-fi fanatics, Clive Gollings (Nick Frost) and Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg), travel to the US for the first time. Clive is a comic writer, Graeme an illustrator, and both have dreamed of visiting area 51, the hub of all things UFO, as they want believe in anything extraterrestrial. Their passion and obsession with science fiction leads them to an accidental encounter with Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), an alien in trouble that asks for their help. From then on, their vacation turns into the adventure of a lifetime!

The film is funny. To start with, bringing two sci-fi nerds from the UK and putting them on a plane to the US means you already have a comedy, let alone when an alien is involved.

Protagonists Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are best friends in real life and work together frequently on short films like ‘Danger! 50,000 Zombies!’, feature length films such as ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and ‘Hot Fuzz’, as well as the TV series ‘Spaced’. The difference with ‘Paul’ is that they left the UK for an American experience and a larger audience.

They have written the film together, and acted in it together. Their weakness towards science fiction and films such as ‘ET’ and ‘Star Wars’ is very obvious – for example, in writing the script they have Paul’s alien character say that he was the one who suggested the story of ‘ET’ to director Steven Spielberg. This, in my opinion, is making the film something out of this world and classifying it as a genius piece of work.

In other words, I felt that the whole film is a comic tribute to all those great directors who made the sci-fi films that have marked our childhood and boosted our imagination, as well as to all the fans out there that were moved by the magic of such pictures.

This is noticeable in the devotion that both Pegg and Frost have put into this film. They have a wonderful chemistry, opposites in size and character, and together they form a great team. The comedy relies mainly on the language, miscommunication due to accent differences, and a lot of inside jokes and awkward situations. All elements, when put together, make you feel like you want to be on that bus with them for some guaranteed fun.

And Paul is, without a doubt, an alien every person would like to have as a friend. He is funny, witty, loves fun and tricks, and has the wonderful voice of actor Seth Rogen. Overall, the characters are very well defined and beautifully written and acted.

If I were to rate it, I would give it 6.5/10 – not a ‘brilliant’ film, yet it still manages to take you away from the outside world for a while.

Have a great cinematic experience with ‘Paul’, and I’m looking forward to your comments on the film – just make sure you are aware it’s an R rated film before you head to the cinema!

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