The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

Paul

Yes. This is a gaming site. Yes. I am reviewing a movie, is there a particular reason for it? Not really, I just felt like it and because let’s face it, one update a week isn’t amazing for hits.

Paul is the latest movie starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and before we carry on any further, I have to mention this, because everyone appears to be fooled by its misleading marketing. It is not the spiritual sequel to Shaun Of The Dead/Hot Fuzz, it’s connected to them by its lead actors and producer only. Edgar Wright has no involvement, as opposed to the writing and directing of the aforementioned movies and whilst I did enjoy Paul tremendously, Edgar Wright’s presence is missed.

There’s definitely something missing from Pegg/Frosts script, but I’m not sure quite what it is, it’s still tightly written, the jokes are funny and there’s a billion sci-fi references that manage to go over almost everyone’s heads to the point where I swear I was the only person in the cinema laughing at some parts, but it just doesn’t feel as good as it should do. Without spoiling it, there’s big reveal at the end of the movie that just feels as though it came from nowhere, no warning. Oh and whilst it’s not the movie’s fault, the OTHER reveal would have really felt incredible had it been kept a secret and the actor hadn’t been placed in the trailers and done publicity for it, so it was a bit of a let down in the first scene where they’re alluded to, to go “Oh that’s _________ character then” and then the final moment doesn’t feel it has an ending feel to it (although, that’s made up for in the credits)

The film is about Graeme and Clive, 2 Sci-fi loving Brits who’ve travelled to the US to attend Comic-Con and tour the UFO spots of America, but get more than they bargained for, when they come across a weed smoking alien, voiced by Seth Rogen. Obviously, I can’t review the movie without talking about Paul himself, he’s an entirely CGI creation, which for a 15 rated movie, is quite a gamble (remember for the most part, the CG/live action is reserved for family movies) and could be awful, but it really pays off. I’m aware, there’s such a thing as a “Seth Rogen character” and whilst Paul does sort of fit into it, the voice acting and the animation (and everyone elses around him) is so fantastic, he really does feel like part of the film and on the set, not something that was added into frame in post production and in the end what the film lacks in sentimentality, it really makes up for in characterisation.

I’m not keen on bringing up the Edgar Wright connection again, but he had this quote and ideal and I think it’s stuck with Simon and Nick here as well, which was “When we were making Hot Fuzz, we had great actors in every little part” and I think they’ve definitely done that in Paul. The film definitely feels more focused towards an American audience, which by all rights, it should and with that in mind, the casting has pulled out all the stops. Jason Bateman (Arrested Development) plays the FBI agent bent on catching Paul, assisted by Bill Hader (Rogens fellow cop in Superbad) and Joe La Truglio (who was also in Superbad…briefly) and then there’s Graeme’s love interest, a very religious Christian played Kristen Wiig (Whip It, Forgetting Sarah Marshall). I’d have liked to see more clever humour based around the whole science/faith debate, but then when you’re aiming for an American audience, I suppose you have to pick your battles…

Now as you’ve probably worked out, there is a Judd Apatow feel to some parts of the movie, there is an overuse of swearwords and a lot of humour is derived from it, which is a shame because we know that Pegg and Frost are capable of a lot more.

It’s by no means a perfect movie, what could have been a clever send up of road trips and the 80’s/90’s Spielberg blockbusters ultimately becomes a straight example of both, and there’s so much potential and ideas for it to be this clever, unique comedy, but it’s ultimately the most mainstream Simon Pegg written film yet, but it’s still a very funny and enjoyable film. The chemistry is spot on, the little details and throwaway lines are brilliant, the cast is fantastic and quite frankly, for a mainstream 15 rated comedy, it’s nice to see something that’s both an original concept and a pretty daring one to boot, in this age of unfunny rom-coms and sequels.

Oh, you want a rating? Fine… I give a 8/10.

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