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DVD Review: Paul

August 9, 2011

Paul – A Universal Pictures’ Release

http://www.whatispaul.com/

DVD Release Date: August 9th, 2011

Rated 14A for coarse language, crude content and violence

Running time: 110 minutes (unrated version)

Greg Mottola (dir.)

Nick Frost (writer)

Simon Pegg (writer)

David Arnold (music)

Seth Rogen as Paul (voice)

Simon Pegg as Graeme Willy

Nick Frost as Clive Gollings

Kristen Wiig as Ruth Buggs

Our reviews below:

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Paul DVD Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost) are a couple of British science-fiction geeks, taking a road trip to San Diego for Comic-Con and visiting the USA’s numerous UFO hotspots.  When they experience a very close encounter just outside of Area 51 with a rude but hilarious alien named Paul (voice of Seth Rogen), they find themselves being chased by bumbling government officials and stopping at nothing to give the little green man a safe journey back to his home planet.  They are joined on their journey by a fundamentalist named Ruth (Kristen Wiig) who has her faith shaken, but the one thing they have in common is that they all find a genuine and unabashedly crude friend in Paul.

The cast here is uniformly strong, and the references to classic films run rampant.  Although a few of the jokes might seriously offend, Wiig is especially hilarious alongside the two leads and Rogen’s voice acting is spot-on.  Perhaps most surprising is that the film also has its fair share of heart beneath the humour.  Although not without a few flaws, Paul is a raunchy and frequently hilarious comedy that will be best enjoyed by those who understand the cultural significance of Comic-Con and are well versed in the world of science-fiction.

The DVD includes audio commentary with director Greg Mottola and several members of the cast, a blooper reel as well as several featurettes.  ___________________________________________________________________________

Paul DVD Review by Erin V.  

*** (out of 4)

When two British Sci-fi geeks, Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost) take a holiday to Comic-Con and then a tour of the USA’s UFO hotspots, they end up running into a rude alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), and soon find themselves having to help this fugitive get back to his ship.  A classic road trip comedy, they meet allies and enemies along the way, with no one quite who they seem on first meeting – including the pursuing area 51 agents.

From the trailer, it looked like this one could go either way, although after seeing Your Highness (also coming to DVD today), I was hoping this one would at least turn out good.  Although rude enough (verbally) to earn its Canadian 14A rating, Paul doesn’t just rely on the swear words being the punch lines, instead creating characters that believably talk crudely, while being genuinely funny.  Those who are familiar with events like Comic-Con, or have a good knowledge base of various Sci-fi media, will enjoy this one all the more, with the clever references sprinkled throughout.  Off the wall and silly, Paul ends up actually having a story that lets us root for the characters, and is one that would even warrant a second look.  If you didn’t catch it in theatres, now that it’s out on DVD, I’d say it’s worth checking out.

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Paul DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Everyone’s heard of E.T., little green men and other endearing alien beings.  But what about the little guy who inspired all those ideas?  For over sixty years, an alien nicknamed Paul (voice of Seth Rogen) has been under government custody.  Two British fanboys, Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost) decide to visit America’s UFO hotspots after a trip to Comic-Con.  Much to their surprise, they run into a real extraterrestrial, the cute but rather foul-mouthed little guy named Paul.

Paul is a friendly chap, who not only clears up misconceptions about his kind (aliens don’t probe or eat people) but quickly becomes buddies with Graeme and Clive.  The adventure leads them to Ruth (Kristen Wiig) a pretty woman who leaves her fundamentalist hillbilly father to travel with the trio of guys.  But Paul’s life is in danger as the government wishes to recapture him and dissect his brain.  Meanwhile, Ruth’s dad is hunting them down with his old shotgun.  Will the gang of friends be able to get Paul home safely?

While Paul pays homage to many classic sci-fi films, it never ceases to be original in its story.  The entire cast is great, with never a dull moment.  Paul captures just the right balance between comedy and suspense, as well as a surprising amount of heart.  The humour, while mildly immature with a lot of language and jokes about “spaceman nuts,” never relies on overly gross comedy or nudity – except for a brief shot of Paul’s tush.  This is a welcome break from most recent comedies.  Paul is a surprisingly charming comedy that sci-fi fans 14 and up will enjoy.

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Paul DVD Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Anyone who has ever attended a comic book/sci-fi convention knows that guys like Clive (Nick Frost) and Graeme (Simon Pegg) really do exist.  Pals since childhood, the two British sci-fi geeks are on the trip of a lifetime, visiting California’s Comic-Con and loving every minute of it.  The pair decide to rent an RV so they can tour the most famous U.S. sites of reported alien/earthling interactions.  Their trip turns out better/worse than they ever imagined when an odd-looking, cigarette smoking, smart-mouthed green alien named Paul (voice of Seth Rogen) convinces them to help him escape government officials and get back to his mothership.

Paul is hilarious.  The dialogue and action, albeit rude is non-stop funny.  Between outwitting and out driving government officials and getting help from a one-eyed woman, Ruth (Kristen Wiig) the guys learn to be creative and heroic.  Sci-fi fans will get a kick out of the numerous references to other movies and TV shows.  The film works mainly because of the out-of-this-world funny cast.  Brits Pegg and Frost are completely believable.  Wiig is perfect as Ruth, who experiences a miracle and awakening on her journey.  Jason Bateman is so serious as government official Lorenzo.  Sci-fi fans will also appreciate Sigourney Weaver’s mostly-off-camera role as “boss lady.”  However, Paul is the star here, with Rogen delivering the lines just as you would expect from an ugly and rude green guy.

Paul is all out interplanetary fun for earthlings and aliens alike.  Check out the DVD, and keep in mind that the language deserves the 14A rating.

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Paul DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Graeme and Clive (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) are British comic book authors attending Comic-Con and making an RV pilgrimage to various UFO sites in the American west. Along the way they pick up the (CGI) title alien Paul (Seth Rogen). After sixty years in secret custody embracing American culture and sharing his own with both authorities and folks like Steven Spielberg, Paul’s value to them alive expired, so he has escaped and needs to get to a landing site for a ride back home. In hot pursuit of Paul, under radio command from a Ripley-like voice, is special agent Zoil (Justin Bateman), who enlists help from a goofy pair of local FBI agents (Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio). After discovering Paul in their RV park, Ruth (Kristin Wiig) is also taken along, with her shotgun-toting father Moses (John Caroll Lynch) close behind. Using his healing powers and a mind meld, Paul relieves Ruth of both her blindness in one eye and fundamentalism, releasing an awkward flood of sexual tension and inappropriate language. Before leaving Earth, Paul pays a final visit to the now elderly Tara (Blythe Danner), on whose farm he had landed in the first place. Other characters include an arrogant sci-fi writer (Jeffrey Tambor), a roadhouse waitress (Jane Lynch) and a pair of intolerant hunters whose vehicle was damaged by the RV.

Paul is the latest writing collaboration and acting vehicle for Pegg and Frost, directed by Greg Mottola. With clever (not gross) gags and lots of verbal, visual and musical references to some of the classic films of Spielberg and others, it succeeds where this week’s dreadful other DVD release Your Highness fails. It laughs with rather than at the denizens of geek fests like Comic-Con and its Toronto counterpart that I have attended and written about, without being too arcane or hip for a wider audience–unlike, for example, Scott Pilgrim (directed incidentally in Toronto by previous Pegg/Frost collaborator Edgar Wright). Besides Pegg and Frost, the cast is excellent, notably Rogen’s hip slacker persona embodied in Paul as well as, for example, Woody Allen’s character in Antz. Bateman’s deadpan spook and Wiig’s liberated Bible-thumper are also brilliant.

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Consensus: Carried by an excellent all-star cast which includes some very funny voice acting from Seth Rogen in the title role, Paul is a consistently hilarious comedy that will be best enjoyed by those well versed in science-fiction.  *** (Out of 4)

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