Paul isn’t dead
Expanding on the deadpan humor of his earlier The Daytrippers (1995), and the Apatow-esque Superbad (2007) and Adventureland (2008), director Greg Mattola combines the road movie with science fiction fandom in the new Paul (2011) DVD. As in his earlier films, it’s an uneven mix of highs and lows, occasionally funny, almost touching in its naiveté, Mattola balancing a meandering spirit with an expected dose of irony. He follows two British SF Pupkins (and Shaun of the Dead alumni), Simon Pegg (‘Scotty’ in 2009’s Star Trek) and Nick Frost, who are on a pilgrimage to the Nevada desert, Ground Zero of yesteryear’s alien sightings. Once there, they hook up with a jittery CGI extraterrestrial named Paul (voice by Seth Rogen), on the lam from his government captors, who takes them on a wild ride that evolves into the de rigueur journey of self awareness. And naturally Paul, influenced by decadent American culture, swears, smokes, and cracks a plethora of scatological jokes than can be quite funny if you’ve had a few drinks. Otherwise, this is strictly a zero-gravity affair, similar in tone to Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (2007), also with Frost and Pegg, yellowing from the antiquity of its goofy Star Wars and Close Encounters references, but still inoffensive enough to painlessly pad one-hundred minutes. It also comes equipped with an interesting assortment of characters played by Jason Bateman, Sigourney Weaver, Jeffrey Tambor and others, who resuscitate the proceedings in those uneasy moments when you think Paul is about to flatline.