Sunday, 27 February 2011

Paul (2011)

The prospect of a film written by and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is always a beautiful thing to me (and indeed my lady, who accompanied me along with three other ladies to go and see the flick the other night. I mention this for a reason). The fact that it's about two comics/SF geeks and a wisecracking alien made the deal even sweeter. And footage set at Comicon? I was sold. The film tells the tale of two English blokes (which is lovely to see for a movie geek from the North like me) who go to SDCC and then on a road trip across sites of alleged alien crashes in order to fulfil their childhood dreams. Along the way they meet the titular Paul, a marvellously realized alien voiced by Seth Rogen. Thus an exciting chase movie ensues as the geeks try to help Paul out with getting where he needs to be.Absolutely packed with references to science fiction movies, comics, novels, geek culture and more, it feels much like some crazed fever dream shared by Pegg and Frost's characters from the seminal TV series Spaced. In short, it's quite brilliant, and after a shitty week that saw myself and my girl both succumb to insane levels of stress, it was the perfect antidote to feeling like crap. That's a good way to sum it up, really.

With shades of ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The X-Files, Men in Black and a bunch of other classics old and new, the film is an unashamed adventure with a heavy helping of well- placed comedy. It even reminded me of stuff like Explorers and The Last Starfighter. More than just a love letter to the stuff that makes nerds like you and me tick, it is a hugely entertaining film that everyone can enjoy (as noted by a cinema full of people loving it).

It certainly helps you get on board if you can pick out the genre references and quotes (as I did throughout it, laughing out loud on repeated occasions), but it's more than just a greatest -hits-of-geekdom package. Everyone can enjoy it. That's why I mentioned who I went with earlier on up there- not everyone in our group was a complete geek, yet the film gets its message and its humour across perfectly well to everyone.

The humour is superb, a mix of UK style comedy and an almost View Askew strain of American laughs. The tropes of the genre are turned on their head, theories of old are debunked, and a small, foul-mouthed alien is naked far too often. Tightly directed by Greg Mottola and blessed with a hugely gifted cast alongside Simon, Nick and Seth, Paul is a good-natured film with plenty of thrills, lots of heart and the atmosphere of the sort of movie you remember from your childhood with warmth. To everyone involved- thank you so much for cheering us up.

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