Note: This is what started it all. I wrote the bulk of this up as quick review for a friend who reviews movies. she liked it so much that she convinced me I should do more. So I dressed it up with a few details and have posted it here for posterity. If I had written it for publication, it would have been a little less choppy, but what the heck.
Paul is a generally entertaining film, but it's confused.
Directed by Greg Molotta, written by and staring Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, the IMDB synopsis for this film is “Two British comic book geeks travelling across the U.S. encounter an alien outside Area 51”. Pretty much sums it up.
The story doesn't so much arc as it wobbles along, looking for hooks where jokes can be hung. Pretty typical for a road flick. The comedy is amusing but not inspired. Like so many comedies it starts well but loses steam under the pressure to sustain feature length. From time to time it flirts with slapstick but thankfully never fully descends to that level. Neither does it ascend beyond the constraints of its own framework. Nobody will be taking any insight into anything home with them when they see this film.
It seems to be confused about audience as well. There's a bucket load of foul language, which isn't all to surprising since profanity is the thread that binds at least a third of the jokes together. This suggests a 14+ rating, but there's not much that would keep someone over the age of 18 entertained. The film further limits its audience by slamming Christian fundamentalism throughout. Amusing though that is, this sucker isn't going to play well in the bible belt.
The characters are borderline two dimensional, there's a few halfhearted attempts at character development, but somehow it doesn't stick. The character roles are but a hair's breadth above what you'd get in "Screenwriting 101" or "How to write a [formulaic] blockbuster."
Worse of all, the dramatic climax of the script carries about as much tension as watching an ice cube melt. You know what's going to happen, you just don't know exactly when.
Visually, it's got some amazing stills. More than one establishing shot was dramatic in its composition. Too bad it's a film and not a coffee table book. Just about every shot with moving people in it was wholly pedestrian. Set the camera up roll, action, cut, wrap, yawn.
The most notable aspect of this film is the animation. The character of Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) is inserted seamlessly into the frame to the point where it's easy to forget he's animated.
The casting is good, but since the two main characters wrote the anything but demanding script, it would be relatively difficult to mess that up.
I'd give it a 6 out of 10, given you went in with low expectations.