‘Paul’ Review

Published 4 years ago by , Updated October 5th, 2011 at 5:26 pm,

paul review Paul Review
Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman reviews Paul

Pretty much every negative review for Paul that I’ve read is prefaced with the same thing I’ll say here: I’m a big fan of Shaun of the Dead and I loved Hot Fuzz (I gave it 5 stars). Those films starred the dynamic duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and were directed by Edgar Wright. The director here is Greg Mottola, who directed Superbad (which I also liked). I had hoped that the Pegg, Frost, and Mottola partnership would make for a new and great comedy movie combination aimed directly at fanboy geeks like myself.

Sadly… not so much.

Pegg and Frost play Graeme Wily and Clive Gollings, a couple of British nerd/fanboys who’ve finally realized their dream of visiting America. Not only America, but the pinnacle event of geek culture: The San Diego Comic-Con. Like any good, dedicated Sci-Fi/comic book fan, they roam the main floor gazing longingly at all the expensive toys for sale. Clive is a writer and Graeme an artist and they’ve been working on a graphic novel inspired by the work of their favorite author Adam Shadowchild (Jeffrey Tambor, sadly underutilized in the film). They meet him and gush, ignoring the fact that he’s quite a pompous ass.

After the Con they decide to drive cross country and hit the UFO sights including places like Roswell, New Mexico. They’re reveling in their adventure when they come across a car wreck as it happens – and this is where they meet Paul, the little green alien (voiced by Seth Rogen). They each react to the seemingly street-wise alien who swears like a sailor in different ways. Graeme accepts and takes to Paul quite quickly while Clive is suspicious and aloof despite the fact that he’s always dreamed of meeting an alien.

It’s made clear that Paul has been on Earth for a very long time and the fact that he’s suddenly out and about means that someone is looking for him. This is where we are introduced to Federal Agent Zoil (Jason Bateman) – a no nonsense, by the book, order-taking man in black who is tasked with tracking down Paul no matter what the cost. He reluctantly partners up with a couple of newbie agents (Joe Lo Truglio and Bill Hader), who turn out to be the funniest additions to the whole movie.

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Paul (Seth Rogen) and Simon Pegg in a scene from 'Paul'

While on the lam our trio runs into Kristin Wigg as Ruth Buggs, a fundamentalist Christian living in a trailer park, and oppressed by her drinking, redneck father. She’s a creationist and “young-Earther,” painted as about as naive and ignorant a person as you’re likely to ever meet. Once she meets Paul, her worldview is completely shattered and she immediately loses her faith. The scene in which it happens is actually pretty funny – she decides that she can now drink, cuss and “fornicate” (that’s a quote). She starts using her newfound permission to spout foul language, but she doesn’t quite have the hang of how to combine the proper words, and it’s funny for the first couple of times she does it (until the joke becomes overused, as the gag is revisited a LOT throughout the film).

The rest of the movie is spent with Ruth, Graeme and Clive trying to get Paul to a rendezvous point where he can be picked up, in order to head back home.

I can tell you that by about 15 minutes into Paul, before Ruth had been introduced, all the film managed to elicit from me were a couple of mild chuckles. Throughout the entire movie I thought there were maybe a half dozen laughs, tops. Paul is kind of a love letter to the sort of folks who are the reason that comic book movies started getting made – the folks who are rabid sci-fi fans and love superheroes. There are a ton of references and nods to films that we know and love (and I mean a TON of references), but overall that’s just one of many things that got old.

Let’s hit the controversy, now, shall we? The inclusion of a heavy anti-religion message feels very out of place, and I think even folks who don’t have “Judeo-Christian beliefs” (quote from the film) will sense that. The supposed humor is wielded like a club – there’s no subtlety like in Monty Python’s Life of Brian or Kevin Smith’s Dogma (two films that poked fun at religion that I enjoyed). Now ruminate on that for a moment – I’m calling a Monty Python film subtle in comparison to this. Some people have stated that in this regard the film is not mean-spirited, and on that I call complete B.S. It could hardly be meaner – including a scene at the very end where there might have been a chance for at least a small bit of grace (yes, that’s an appropriate word for this), but instead it was another slap in the face. Oh, there’s also a cheap shot at the fact police use, like, GUNS here in the U.S.. I wouldn’t mind if it was actually funny – but again, club, over the head.

Additionally, I didn’t understand why those behind the film felt that it needed to be rated R. Paul could have easily been a PG-13 movie – the extreme amount of foul language feels totally superfluous and adds nothing to the film. After a while it gets very old and I started to wonder: is there NO one in this film who knows how to speak a sentence without dropping an f-bomb or other profanity? Again, before you call me out as a priss, see the films I’ve listed above that I enjoyed.

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Jason Bateman as agent Zoil

So what’s good? Well, being a Sci-Fi geek I did appreciate all the references to beloved films, even if it did get old after a while. Kristen Wigg does a good job with the role she’s given to work with, and I’m always a fan of Jason Bateman’s performance style. The CGI animation for the title character was excellent as well. But for me, the highlight was the two supporting characters played by Lo Truglio and Hader – the former plays it so earnestly goofy and the latter so completely straight that I couldn’t help but smile at the pair whenever they were on screen.

I suppose there’s a very narrow audience who may enjoy Paul, but in my opinion the filmmakers took an idea that could have been extremely funny and tainted it with a ton of foul language that was unnecessary and a heavy anti-religion message that kills most of the potential fun in the film.

Here’s a trailer for Paul:


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Our Rating:

2 out of 5

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308 Comments - Comments are closed.

  1. I was so dissapointed in this movie. I love the actors involved in this comedy/scifi, but the script left a lot to be desired. It was just unimaginative and full of stereotypes that didn’t garnish even a smile. Pure crap. Pity. Don’t waste your money on this one.

  2. I find it funny that people seem to have missed the fact that even Paul wasn’t opposed to there being a God. Just after he “convinced” Ruth about the truth of the universe, he said that there could be a God, but not the way she believed it to be true.

    Also, why is it every time Christians come up, everyone automatically jumps to Catholics? I am a Christian, but I’m not in agreement with hardly anything the pope says. In fact, in my belief, it is against 1st/2nd commandment for the pope to act like god in the way he does.

  3. I have quite a relaxed view on religion, and I didn’t personally notice much of an explicitly anti-Christian theme running through ‘Paul’. I certainly wouldn’t exactly say it was controversial or anything to that extent. It’s about as controversial as the theme running through the film of Simon and Nick’s characters being gay…

    I thought the film was very average. Unfair to compare it to ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and ‘Hot Fuzz’ though, as ‘Paul’ isn’t part of the ‘Blood & Ice Cream’ trilogy. Just because it stars Simon & Nick does not make the film similar.

    Great method acting from Seth though, he made a totally convinving alien.

  4. MR. Holtreman please stop writing reviews!
    You gave 2,5 stars to The tourist – the worst movie ever and only two to Palu.

    I will NEVER read Screen Rant reviews ever again.


    • maaaja,

      Damn. I guess you’ll never see my goodbye and wish that you have a nice life.


  5. God you people are stupid. This is just a review, and a crappy review at that. How did it escalate into some religious debate? Then some fat imbecile starts blathering about Hitler for no reason at all. Bunch of stupids. Back to the review.. this review blows. Typical old guy doesn’t like naughty language in a movie. Okay, so maybe Ruth was a little unbearable as a character. But she doesn’t have an extremely huge part to play in the movie fortunately. It’s more like she’s just tagging along and being the Jar Jar Binks of the film. She’s a minor flaw, really. Everything else not involving her is pretty funny and a lot of the cussing excluding the cussing coming out of Ruths stupid face, enhances that comedy. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

    Here’s a real rating for you. (4.2 out of 5)

    • i agree this movie was better than 2 stars

  6. I loved it. I laughed all the way through. The seen with Spielberg on the phone was priceless.

  7. I enjoyed it a lot. If you’re a sci-fi/comic book fan you will really like it. Also, I consider E.T. to be my favorite movie of all-time, so it was nice to see them pay homage to that.

    As for the atheist stuff in the film…
    It didn’t really bother me. I’m not an atheist, but the way they brought it up was funny and fit well with the movie in my opinion.

    So it’s not a GREAT movie, but it’s definitely worth seeing. I’d say 4 out of 4 stars.

  8. I liked Paul because it had an alien.

    • A very sound analysis of the film I’d say :D

  9. That’s too bad that Paul got 2 stars here and Sucker Punch got 2.5 stars? Now that does not make sense to me at all because Paul was much more fun than Sucker Punch. I actually loved Paul so much I saw it twice. I wouldn’t be caught dead seeing that accident Sucker Punch twice. Anyone else agree?

    • No. No one else agrees with you. How does it feel to be all alone?

      P.S.Dont bother replying because i dont care and wont read it anyways…have a nice day.

    • *hi fives* I also saw Paul twice (I might go see it again too :D) I haven’t seen Sucker-punch yet, but I think the graphics and overall LOOK of the film is pretty cool.

  10. Hey,,, Fix iTunes, reviews, ratings don’t mean anything compared to what you felt about the film.
    I would hardy loose any sleep over the freken review.

  11. I thought it was funny i love Simon Pegg and the other guy i forget his name. The only problem i have with this film is Seth Rogen he is so monotone in all his films and plays the same characters telling the same jokes all his characters with the exception of Zack and Miri make a porno seem to revolve revolve around him being a stoner. I wish he would go away, however this is just my opinion.

  12. This is really too bad – I didn’t know the movie addressed religion at all until I was casually discussing it with my brother, asking how it was, and he explained that I might not like it because of this. I am disappointed and torn as to whether or not I want to see it, as I love Pegg and Frost but really don’t have a desire to sit down and be told for two hours that I’m stupid for believing in God.

    It sounds like the movie just lacks balance – I wouldn’t have a problem with the issue of what happens to religion when extraterrestrials are proven to be real being discussed in a film, as I think it’s an interesting question (really, though, why WOULDN’T God create/provide for the evolution of life on more than one planet?). What I would have a problem with is the same old deal where Christianity is represented solely in terms of radical fundamentalism that must be quashed in order to allow rationalism to shine through – and never just tempered in order to allow for belief in God and acceptance of science, but always thrown out in a complete rejection of faith. From what I’ve read here and elsewhere, there’s all of one line that allows for belief in God despite the film’s proof against one brand of creationism, and the rest of the movie follows a stark dichotomy between faith and enlightenment. Not cool, Frost and Pegg. Not cool.

    I’m tempted to see it anyway – and perhaps I should, simply to judge for myself – but I think it can wait until it’s available on Netflix. I’m a little afraid that I’m going to be turned off these guys by the film, which would be a shame because they really are fantastically funny actors.