in Review

Close Encounters of the Turd Kind


Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Pegg and Frost… At least I always thought they could be that caliber comedy duo. They wooed geek fanboys with cult classics like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, but what doesn’t this have that those did? Edgar Wright. So maybe these real life best buds were never actually a conventional comedy duo, rather two funny blokes being controlled by a more talented puppet master “Pull the strings!”

Penned by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and directed by Greg Mottola of Superbad fame we have the sci-fi/comedy Paul. Paul being the story of two geeky Englishmen driving around the American southwest in hot pursuit of extra terrestrial hot spots. Naturally they get more then they bargained for when they encounter Paul, the foul mouthed antithesis of E.T. searching for a way home after sixty-something years. Why so long? Because that’s what’s in the script.

It sounds like an easy enough premise to sell to fans of both Pegg/Frost and geekdom in general, yet Paul is a film that instantly crash lands and never finds it’s home. Does it have geeky references to pop culture? Yeah I guess, but there isn’t anything particular clever about any of it. It’s easy to reference something, but a lot harder to turn into a joke that’s relevant to the action of the story. Really I would of preferred to see more obscure references, more subtlety inserted, like ya know, other Pegg/Frost movies. Those films were great because their scripts were immensely layered with hundreds of small yet strikingly witty jokes. Every time I watch Shaun of the Dead I’m always amazed by how much is really going on through the dialogue and the action. Paul on the other hand is as generic as any other Hollywood shlock, what happened?

With all the comedic talent involved (Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader) I’m not sure exactly what went wrong. I probably laughed just once and I’ll tell ya, I went to the movies that day wanting to laugh. These jokes about probing and other alien cliches are nothing that we haven’t already heard in films like Men in Black, couldn’t they go for a less obvious approach to this concept? I guess not, so what we got was a so-so 100 minutes of predictable slapstick, cheesy homages, and British people… Yay?

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