Paul

Our reviewer says this is a sweet, funny, incredibly nerdy road trip movie ... with an alien.

It goes without saying that the whole world could use a laugh right about now. Thankfully, the new sci-fi comedy Paul is arriving in theaters Friday, packing more laughs per minute than almost any movie in the past decade—along with great performances, inventive twists and a sweet core of silly fun.

Written by and starring British comics Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, the dynamic duo behind the brilliant cult hits Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Paul centers on two nerdy British tourists named Clive (Frost) and Graeme (Pegg) who have come to America to visit the sci-fi nerd mecca of Comic-Con. They also decide to drive an RV across the U.S. to visit sites where alien encounters have allegedly occurred. Even they realize that they’re just being silly, and there’s no way they’ll ever encounter a real alien—until a car races around them in the dead of night before careening off the highway and exploding.

Looking for human survivors, they instead encounter a surly, wisecracking, dope-smoking alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen in one of the best voiceover performances I’ve ever heard) who’s on the run from federal secret agents (Jason Bateman and Sigourney Weaver) who he believes are out to kill him. Paul took his name from the dog his spaceship crushed when it crash-landed in rural Wyoming in 1947, and he’s spent the past 60-plus years being questioned at the clandestine Area 51 for his advanced alien insights and technological know-how.

Paul is just desperate to stay on the run and alive, but things keep getting more complicated as junior federal agents (Bill Hader and Thomas Lennon) get roped into the chase, and the on-the-lam trio also pick up a fundamentalist Christian named Ruth (Kristen Wiig) who’s desperate to make a getaway of her own: from her repressive life managing a desert RV park with her Bible-thumping father (John Carroll Lynch).

Paul is a wonder to behold, a smile- and laugh-inducing romp from start to finish that, even though it’s rated “R” for some profanity and a few pot-smoking scenes, has an inherently good-natured vibe. Director Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland) displays the best of his strengths from both those prior films as he weaves frenetically funny action scenes with revealing emotional moments that steer clear of sappiness.

Aside from its vast surface charms, the film’s brilliant script and perfect casting includes hilarious cameos from the likes of Jane Lynch, David Koechner, Jeffrey Tambor and, in the most truly inspired gag, the voice of Steven Spielberg himself. Pay close attention and you’ll find countless sly references to other classic alien films, including the fact that Weaver is fighting an alien again in a completely different fashion than her epic turns as Ripley in the Alien series of films.

One big caveat to Christian viewers is the fact that Ruth and her father’s characters are played for laughs, as they dive right into stereotypical jokes as gun-toting creationists who believe the world is just 4,000 years old. She has never drunk alcohol, sworn, kissed a man or traveled outside her limited desert radius—all aspects that are quickly rectified as she hits the road with the gang.

Yet she’s also depicted as having an inherently sweet innocence that is respected, and at one point Paul expresses sadness that he’s shaken her faith. He also invokes Scripture respectfully when he talks her into letting him use his healing powers to cure a lifelong eye problem in one of the film’s more serious moments.

Hopefully, popular American audiences won’t be dissuaded by the fact that the film stars Pegg and Frost, who are relatively unknown here. These are two men who are long overdue for a major break here, and if audiences give this movie a shot, it could well become a word-of-mouth sensation.

13 Comments

Christian

21

Christian reviewed…

I really don't think the issue is freedom of speech. I believe the issue is that here is a movie that has a clear anti-Christian agenda and makes light of the Gospel, the Image of God that the Lord has so clearly placed on man and our Savior. Supporting this movie is like going to a movie where they make fun of your mom or have an agenda against her and still thinking it's cool. Either Jesus is the Lord of our lives and is worthy of having respect and honor in our lives or He is some vague thing like ufos or aliens; possibly out there but still fuzzy. We as believers have to have the wherewithal to stand for our Savior especially in a time where nothing is sacred; we need to be salt and light.

84,950

Alicia reviewed…

I also saw the movie. And while I did enjoy some parts of it, the condescending dismissal of people of faith and the glorification of atheism really troubled me.

84,950

Anonymous reviewed…

Ummmm....how do I say this...?

I haven't even seen this movie yet. I have a friend who is an agnostic who's seen this movie recently. The first thing he said when he told me his thoughts on the movie were, "I have a feeling Christians are going to dislike this film. Paul was very anti-God, very anti-theism." He then went on to tell me all the reasons why. I appreciated that my non-theist friend would even be sensitive enough to the beliefs of theists to be able tell me that Paul was openly offensive.

I am incredibly disappointed that in efforts to be "relevant" this review has given Paul such a positive rating. Forget for a second the comedy factor of this movie. Perhaps it is really funny. I laughed when I saw the trailer too, but what an insult, what a slap in the face is this movie really? Just looking at the other comments here as well suggest there are alot of people who feel the same way about this.

Perhaps Relevant could serve its community a little better by filtering through a different perspective when it comes to the things in progressive culture that actually aren't all that great, especially when that media is quite obviously, quite proudly sending degrading messages to a very clearly defined audience of Judeo-Christians. Not just other religions; but Christians. Too much of a lighthearted, passive take on this one, Relevant. I'm super disappointed.

84,950

Hfoiahfuhf reviewed…

get over it

Josh Bellis

6

Josh Bellis reviewed…

I'd just like to voice my simple little opinion on this matter:
Before I go too far into it, however, let it be stated that by no means do I appreciate anti-God agendas when they appear in films. I am not some fair-weather follower of God who will stand up for God until it means disliking a film. That persona fits for some people, but not me.
But I must say, there is a serious problem with us as Christian audiences of these films. If we are mature enough to realize that anti-theist arguments don't hold weight against our faith in Jesus, then why SHOULD an anti-theist agenda in a film bother us? I do not believe that Relevant is in the wrong here for giving Paul a decent rating. They gave that rating because they expected that we, as a mature audience, could appreciate the film without getting hung up on this agenda which can and should be overlooked, because it has no bearing for us. Does any kind of agenda of this nature effect you as a viewer or has it ever in the past?
Besides, by giving the disclaimer of this agenda, Relevant was preparing viewers for a possible area in which they should practice their maturity as an audience.
Now here's what REALLY worries me. In real life, when someone swears loudly, then looks at you and apologizes, "Sorry, I know that cussing is a sin for you Christians", is that person suddenly of less value? Should we tell our friends to avoid that person? That is a very flawed way of perceiving value in anything, and could easily result in an isolated Christian culture of people who are so culturally irrelevant that no new demographics of unbelievers can possibly be reached.
I don't mean for any of this to sound the way it probably did, but please, Christian viewers of films, hear my message, and consider it!

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