Paul (2011) - Rotten Tomatoes


Paul (2011)



Critic Consensus: It doesn't measure up to Pegg and Frost's best work, but Paul is an amiably entertaining -- albeit uneven -- road trip comedy with an intergalactic twist.

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Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) reunite for the comedy adventure Paul as two sci-fi geeks whose pilgrimage takes them to America's UFO heartland. While there, they accidentally meet an alien who brings them on an insane road trip that alters their universe forever. For the past 60 years, an alien named Paul (Seth Rogen) has been hanging out at a top-secret military base. For reasons unknown, the space-traveling smart ass decides to escape the compound and hop on the first vehicle out of town -- a rented RV containing Earthlings Graeme Willy (Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Frost). Chased by federal agents and the fanatical father of a young woman that they accidentally kidnap, Graeme and Clive hatch a fumbling escape plan to return Paul to his mother ship. And as two nerds struggle to help, one little green man might just take his fellow outcasts from misfits to intergalactic heroes. Paul is directed by Superbad's Greg Mottola, from a story by Pegg & Frost. Joining the comedy's cast are Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Blythe Danner, Joe Lo Truglio, John Carroll Lynch, David Koechner and Sigourney Weaver. -- (C) Universal

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Simon Pegg
as Graeme Willy
Nick Frost
as Clive Gollings
Jason Bateman
as Agent Zoil
Kristen Wiig
as Ruth Buggs
Bill Hader
as Haggard
Blythe Danner
as Tara Walton
John Carroll Lynch
as Moses Buggs
Jane Lynch
as Pat Stevens
Sigourney Weaver
as The Big Guy
Jeffrey Tambor
as Adam Shadowchild
Jennifer Granger
as Adam Shadowchild Fan
Mia Stallard
as Young Tara
Mark Sivertsen
as State Trooper
David House
as Security Guard
Syd Masters
as Band Member #1
Michael Miller
as Police Officer
Gary Roller
as Band Member #2
Oliver O'Shea
as Band Member #3
Lonnie Otha-Mayer
as Band Member #4
Will Veitch
as Band Member #5
Mike Miller
as Police Officer
Lori Dillen
as Robed Woman
Joe Berryman
as Gas Station Attendant
Jeremy Owen
as Sword Vendor
J. Todd Anderson
as Comic Store Clerk
Diego Deane
as Fireworks Store Clerk
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Critic Reviews for Paul

All Critics (207) | Top Critics (59)

Passably funny, though one suspects even diehard sci-fi buffs will find the film's wall-to-wall pop referencing tiring and a tad lazy. Doesn't anybody write genuine jokes any more?

April 13, 2011 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…

Paul isn't as riotous as the early Pegg and Frost movies, but it does have a certain sweetness. Everyone in it is sort of innocent, except Paul, the alien wisecracker. It's likeable, if uneven, rather than hilarious.

April 13, 2011 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

It is a sunny road trip comedy that had me smiling from the start, and while there are the occasional hiccups this is still as breezily a good time at the movies as I've had this year.

March 25, 2011 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Paul is offensive solely for being so underachieving.

March 25, 2011 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…

Well, that's one joke. Ninety more minutes to go.

March 25, 2011 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The film has some laughs. But it also has a million jokes about anal probes, alien genitalia, and people thinking Clive and Graeme are gay. These guys can do better than this.

March 21, 2011 | Rating: C

Audience Reviews for Paul

When an artistic partnership has become established, it can be very difficult for its constituent members to achieve success or recognition on their own. Filmmakers as varied as the Hughes brothers and Powell and Pressberger have struggled to branch out on their own - though in Powell's case, he has been considerably rehabilitated since Peeping Tom first hit the screens. But it is particularly difficult to do this in comedy, where double acts become so indelible in the public's imagination that it is almost inconceivable for the individuals therein to take the limelight alone. Can we really relate to Ernie Wise without Eric Morecambe, or Stan Laurel without Oliver Hardy? The partnership between director Edgar Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost has been one of the best things to come out of British comedy in the last two decades, beginning in the cult TV series Spaced and leading to the acclaimed 'Three Flavours Cornetto' trilogy of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End. Between these last two offerings, Wright attempted to crack Hollywood in his own right with Scott Pilgrim vs the World, leaving Pegg and Frost with time on their hands to try something of their own. The result of this gap in their schedules is Paul, a somewhat underwhelming vehicle which fails to make the most of its leads as both actors and writers. Underpinning Paul is a desire to make Pegg and Frost's very British style of comedy appeal to American audiences. Pegg had by this time carved out a small niche in America through supporting parts in Mission: Impossible III and Star Trek, while Frost's fame remained largely confined to the British Isles. There is a very conscious effort on the part of director Greg Mottola to sell Pegg and Frost as a double act for the johnny-come-latelies who hadn't seen Pegg's success as a good reason to delve into his back catalogue. As a result there is a great deal of pandering to American expectations of what British culture is like, including our attitudes to religion, our views on homosexuality and our approach to geek culture, in a manner which is understandable but very tacky. The screenplay of Paul feels like the first draft of a half-decent script that would eventually have been a better film. There are loads of films built around the device of authors having extraordinary experiences out in the real world which leads them to write a masterpiece, or authors being driven mad by strange goings-on - The Shining and In The Mouth of Madness being good examples of the latter. But instead of being taken in a quirky new direction, the plot is tightly constricted by the tried-and-tested conventions of the American road movie; the goal may be getting to a sci-fi convention rather than a plush campsite in the Rocky Mountains, but otherwise the film's central premise is not that different in scope to National Lampoon's Vacation. A lot of the concepts raised in the script feel underdeveloped, being only briefly touched upon rather than explored in detail, either poignantly or with jokes. The idea of aliens having an influence on human civilisation and culture is a lynchpin of 20th-century sci-fi, but Paul tackles it in about as much depth as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Once the idea of Paul's influence had been introduced, the film could have used it as a jumping-off point for a series of gags about exactly how his influence was felt - similar to what happened regularly on Doctor Who during both Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi's time in the TARDIS. Instead the idea is treated as a throwaway gag, and then it's back to tired jokes about smoking weed and women with three boobs (a drawn-out Total Recall reference). There is a place for films with aliens who are bad taste and surprisingly down-to-earth when it comes to meeting humans. They don't all have to be either as ruthlessly threatening as the Xenomorphs in Alien or as cuddly as those in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But the relationships in Paul are too baldly written and are set in stone very early on, the jokes are not honed properly and much of the larger-scale set-pieces drag on. Most of all, it doesn't have the heart or warmth either of Pegg and Frost's best work or the best films about alien encounters, like E. T. or John Carpenter's Starman. Paul also suffers because of the lack of a strong bond between the cast and the director. It's fair to say that anyone would have struggled to get the same standard of performance out of Pegg and Frost that Wright managed; J. J. Abrams did okay with the former, but that was in supporting roles rather than as a joint lead. Mottola's back catalogue is decidedly uneven - the awful Superbad versus the surprisingly decent Adventureland - and his sensibility simply doesn't gel with that of his leading men. A lot of the film is characterised by the same chaotic, sub-Saturday Night Live approach to American comedy that we later saw in We're The Millers, where characters endlessly shout over each other in the name of sounding naturalistic - an approach which ironically makes the comedy feel a lot more forced. A further problem along these lines is the lazy characterisation of the women in the film. One of the things which made Spaced work so well was that Jessica Stevenson could go toe-to-toe with Pegg and Frost, with a character that was just as well written. While there are some nice touches in Pegg and Frost's characters, and a few decent lines for Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig gets very little to do that doesn't make her fantastically irritating. Her entire character is poorly written and lazy - why does every Christian in mainstream comedy have to be a creationist nutjob? Once the scales have fallen from her eyes, her character becomes just a boiled-down version of her performance in Bridesmaids, equal parts grating and repetitive. The same goes, very sadly, for Sigourney Weaver. She is no stranger to sci-fi comedy having appeared in the underrated Galaxy Quest, and played a memorable antagonist in The Cabin in the Woods around the same time. Weaver leapt at the chance to be in the film, and she's clearly having as much fun as the part allows. But while Mottola wisely confines her to just a menacing voice until the final reel, the pay-off doesn't fire on all cylinders. What should be a ballsy finale is just a reiteration of the same joke (that she's a woman called The Big Guy), and while her death is funny, it's more of a passing chuckle than a belly laugh. Paul, to be blunt, is a film which settles for the easy, low-hanging fruit when it is more than capable of flattering both itself and the audience's intelligence. If watching Shaun of the Dead was like watching a lightweight British sports car run rings around a lumbering American muscle car, this is like turning up to watch a daredevil stunt driver who then decides to pootle around in a diesel hatchback. Mottola does put the extra money on screen most of the time - the motion capture and CGI used to bring Paul to life is very well-executed. But it lacks both the ambition and finesse needed to bring its central concept to life, and settles for being an adequate film rather than constantly pushing on towards goodness. But in spite of all its shortcomings or half-heartedness, it is still possible to find some fun to enjoy in Paul. Pegg and Frost still make for a likeable and charismatic pairing; they are easily capable of holding our attention in the face of indifferent material by their energy levels, and you always get the sense of them believing in the project. This does result in a lot of on-the-nose references (including Weaver's famous line at the end of Aliens), but these aren't enough to throw you out of the moment too much. Paul also looks pretty decent as comedy road movies go. Lawrence Sher has a less-than-glittering record as a cinematographer (Garden State, The Dukes of Hazard and The Hangover Part III, to name but a few), but he understands the films which Pegg and Frost are influenced by, and shoots the set-pieces with enough of a modern touch to lift the action above mere homage or pastiche. David Arnold's score is one of his less memorable but it suits the action sufficiently, and Chris Dickens' editing is disciplined and controlled, keeping the film at a decent enough pace. Even if none of the jokes had fired, this is a more mechanically sound comedy than, say, Beverly Hills Cop or Police Academy. Paul is an enjoyable disappointment which doesn't make enough of Pegg and Frost's talents either as writers or as performers. The charm of its leading men and the mechanical integrity of the film is just about enough to override the persistent feeling that they can do so much better, and there are moments where it finally gets out of third gear and starts to shine. While not a low point in either of their careers, it is not an exercise that they should readily repeat.

Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer


Well you go in thnking that this is just going to be a simple nerdy sci-fi flick and thats what you get, however it is surprisingly funny and enjoyable! A great cast and an enjoyable movie to keep you entertained! Its Not one of my favourtie Pegg and Frosts movie, however bring in seth rogen and 'anal probe' then its still entertaining and keeps you very much amused!

Film Crazy
Film Crazy

Super Reviewer


review coming

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

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