‘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.

paul review1 Paul Review

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. A depressing statistic for sure.

  2. Vic, I have to congratulate you on something I have never seen before. I have been on numerous discussion boards on Religion and all of them, save this thread, have people calling each other names and damning each other to nether regions. Kudos, my Christian brother.

    • Kahless,

      There HAS been some of that, and I have taken what I consider to be appropriate action.

      But for the most part, I agree and am impressed as well.


    • +1 8^)

      • +2

        • You guys should have seen the whopper that didn’t get through this morning. Holy cow…


  3. With all the awful things that happen in this world and all the horrible people that inhabit it I don’t understand why anyone would want to even bother to believe in a god. I’d be horribly depressed every day if I believed in god. It’s much more comforting to think we are alone that some of us are good and some of us are bad and some in between. Very uncomfortable to try to believe that there is an all knowing all powerful being that allows (or creates) all the pain and misery in the world. I’d rather believe we are alone than believe in a Sky bully.

    Not to mention evolution is more scientific backing than god. You can’t prove god doesn’t exist or does exist, but I see more evidence for doesn’t than i do does and I’m far more comfortable believing he doesn’t it does not hurt my stomach as much.

    • There was a story I heard once about an angel that defied God and was cast out of heaven with 1/3 of the other angels (that followed him). That guy convinced a lady to disobey and thus sin entered the world. God doesn’t make the world this way. We do.

      • Foopher and the only part of it that’s correct is the part where you call it a story because that’s all it is.

        That’s a cop out to say as well. If god existed and really cared he’d step in and change things. Little bible thumping catch phrases like “God doesn’t do this we do ” or “it’s gods will that this happen” are cheap excuses to try and explain away why he ALLOWS/CREATES so much chaos. Which brings me back to my point why would anyone stretch the truth so much because they are so desperate to believe in a powerful being that allows this crap to happen?

        Also last I checked nothing I do in this world creates an earth quake let me guess that one is just gods mysterious will and your suppose to blindly support it?

        • If evil and pain and suffering didn’t exist on this earth, you would not be happy because you wouldn’t know what “happy” was. A fish doesn’t know it’s wet, but YOU do. Why? Because, unlike the fish, you know what “dry” is. The only reason why you know what good is is because you know what evil is as well. Pain and misery exist because they are necessary to experience happiness. The spiritually enlightened understand this reality and accept it. The spiritually ignorant seem to struggle to grasp the reality and say simple-minded things like, “If God exists, why doesn’t He make everything nice and happy and smiley?”

          • That is easily the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.

            So so many people being killed in Japan, Children being molested and everything Adolph Hitler did was ok because it was so I could know what happiness is? Give me a break.

            I’d rather not know what happiness is. Hell there is so much horribleness in the world I actually don’t know what happiness is. How could anyone be happy knowing everything that’s happening?

            • Boy, you must be a joy at parties. Step back from the ledge, buddy. Life is good.

              • Yeah, life is good, no thanks to God.

              • If being fun at parties is your biggest life concern pull the silver spoon out of your mouth and read the news.

  4. @foopher,,,
    What if,,, long ago. ^
    A race of galactic beings that were more or less human in apperance created us for whatever reason.

    At some point they became split on what to do with us. One side wanted to basically nuke us from orbit and rid themselves of us. The other side realised they had created a creative being that contained a soul. Therefore spiritual and karmically they couldn’t just destroy us and bail.
    The conflict grew to the point where the side that wanted us killed, caused a spacial disturbance that caused the worldwide flood of the bible.

    The good side was able to save enough of the people and preserve areas where they could rebuld the human race. Meanwhile the side that caused the flood was cast out and banished.
    I’m sure some of you here have seen documentaries about ancient astronauts and pyramids with ufos carved into the walls.
    Something to think about tonight as Japan burns and Libya is attacked by UN forces. :)

    • This is basically exactly what I believe! Well put

  5. Just watching the trailer makes me think it’s a dog.

  6. Daniel if you actually did some research on the soul you might find out that perhaps we choose to come here put up with the bs, and agree to forget what we are.
    That is, a spiritual being inhabiting a physical body on a physical world.

    Perhaps for many reasons (spiritual grow, etc?) we go through the pains of this reality. This would include the entire group (people on earth).

    As time doesn’t exsist in spirit, your lifetime on Earth would be a brief stop experiecing a physical reality.

    As a spiritual being, knowing this beforehand you might plan out your lifetime to occur during good times or bad. Either way negative things happen in this reality so that we can learn from them spiritually.

    None of this will make much sense unless you can disconnect/forget the religious dogma and focus on the spirit. Thats the energy your body retains at night when you dream. More or less.
    I reccomend readng some books on near death experiences if your interested.

    • No thanks most NDE’s are BS stories anyway and have been explained by doctors for what they really are, but the people refuse to accept the truth of the situation.

  7. As soon as I heard Seth Rogen’s voice in the trailer I knew this movie would be awful. Vic, I would bet dollars to doughnuts that the overuse of vulgarity was due to Rogen being in the film. The guy is NOT funny in any way and has to reduce everything to F bombs to cover up his lack of talent. This movie had so much potential and the producers destroyed it the day they hired Rogen.

    • Andy I could not possibly disagree with you more here. I think Rogen is one of the funniest comedic actors around.

      However, you’d be wrong with that guess the majority of the cursing is not Seth it’s in fact a girl in the movie who throws out random curse words for no reason other than to curse.

  8. Threads like this are why many sites and forums ban any discussion on religious topics. I suppose it’s unavoidable in this case, but it’s seriously sad reading this (and basically having to watch Vic defend himself for believing in something others don’t). I guess that’s a risk he takes taking his opinion public (that’s what a reviewer does after all), but the knee-jerk thing really kind of sucks. Any way you look at it, people are A-holes and their tolerance for anything outside of their comfort zone is sorely lacking.

  9. Wow. This has been the most interesting thread I have read in some time. I don’t know if posts have been deleted but I’m surprised at how civil most of the arguments have been. My opinion one the subject though is that 1) I enjoyed Paul. I’m a fan of Frost and Pegg and I got exactly what I expected out of this movie. 2) Even though I don’t believe in God or any form of religion I have a respect for those who do and just like I would never judge them based on their color, nationality or sexualality I will not judge them based on their faith. I don’t think it’s fair to base your opinion on someone or their inteligence just because they don’t feel the same way as you. Especialy if it has zero effect on your life. Even though I don’t understand it, if it’s a persons faith that helps them through the ups and downs of life more power to them…

    • Kevin I feel pretty confident saying that the civility mostly has to do with Vic moderating comments. People call people all kinds of names and curse like crazy talking about Green lantern I doubt that they didn’t do the same here. Also I believe up above he said something about deleting a few. Still i’m guess it’s been better than most website that let a conversation like this happen because by now most of us know and for the most part follow Vics rules.

      • It hasn’t been bad actually, except for one particular commenter. We’ve got a good bunch of folks here for the most part.


  10. @ Grover Dill as you know, sometimes it takes people many lifetimes before they get it…

  11. Daniel until mankind evolves spiritually your going to have what’s going on in the news going on in the news.

    Man shouldn’t be using atomic energy because its based on a destructive energy.

    Mankind shouldn’t be killing itself over territories and control of people.

    Over the course of time mankind will either evolve or die. We are at a critical juncture,,, enjoy this timeline as you will never live it again.

    • I’m fine with never living it again. Not possible to enjoy something unenjoyable. That’s like saying enjoy the crappy movie since you’ll never get to see it again. If something sucks no point in pretending to enjoy it. I’m just looking forward to the end.

  12. Vic remember the good ole days when the Boondock Saints review was hot stuff,,,?


  13. @Words, you really need to get past the terminology of Genesis.

    The bible was written that way because the human vocabulary in that time was limited to its technology and knowledge.

    Your name is Words,
    Wtf,,, :)

    • If the bible is outdated, why follow it all…?

  14. It has a “heavy anti-religion” message? You mean, it ridicules Muslims? Well, that’s insensitive and…what? It ridicules Christians? Oh, cool. I don’t think that’s even wrong to ridicule Christians because they’re all evil. Just compare them to terrorist Muslims or to atheists who murder, rape, lie, cheat, and steal. At least Muslims aren’t Christians! And atheists aren’t Muslims! And, yeah. That.

    • What? Are you serious? Keep whatever your on away from me I have to many things to do.

      I don’t like religion at all, but I wouldn’t call any of them evil that’s just so naive and childish. I may call some of them bats*it crazy like Scientology, but none are evil they are just different. No religion is evil inherently just some of the people in them can be.

      • So Satanists who worship the exact opposite of god who is supposedly good arent evil? What hole do you live in and how can i avoid it?

  15. oh wow…. just wow.

  16. I actually saw it finally and it was okay. The cursing was definitely really poorly handled and the anti-religion message was annoying because it was poorly done. It’s really easy to prove people wrong when you can just make up evidence like little grey men.

  17. Sounds to me like an overly religious twit got their feelings hurt because the widdle alien movie didn’t rub a non existent god’s ego a little harder. Aww, and too many bad words for you too! What are you three? I found the movie wholesome. It is better than the 800 billion 3D movies coming out with nothing going for them. Paul was funny and different! For me it really hit home with comedy and different messages. Just because you didn’t agree with them doesn’t make it a terrible movie. Put the bible down and get a sense of humor.

  18. Well I guess there are just some people who like movies that are daring and some people who think the cookie monster should become the veggie monster. I guess you more uptight people should stick to crap movies the the Wizard of OZ and Annie. Might be safe enough for you. ;D

    • Crap movies like the Wizard of Oz?

      Well now I know how much your opinion is worth.


      • Wow Simone, calling a classic like The Wizzard of Oz crap is indeed a ballsy statement. I’m sure most of us here DISAGREE with you.

        • Certainly it isn’t the case that a particularly sophisticated point was made there.

          Simone, I do in fact empathise with the Atheist perspective. In fact I go about my day as an effective Atheist. However, a personal attack on Vic based on information you could not possibly know inexorably only serves to make you look like a bit of a butt-hole.

          Please, and I’m actually being completely sincere here, please take a moment to restructure your posts before you make them. For your own sake.

          • Davyb,

            I appreciate your comment. And based on a lovely follow up comment by Simone that didn’t make it through, we won’t have to worry about hearing from her again here.


            • Wizard of Oz is an instant classic. Love it!! :)

  19. @Davyb, I know you don’t want to get into the subject but you said,,,
    “…and the progress of Homo Sapiens from the common ancestor that we share with the apes is well documented in the construction of the genome…. Which makes the genetic evidence for ‘Ape to Man’ actually incontrovertible.”
    I would agree that apes have a lot in common with us or vise versa, however conventional science “hasn’t” clearly established the “link” between apes and homo sapiens.
    There’s a huge gap there in our history.

    Its almost like something came along and altered the ape genome in ways that gave it a purpose or a soul.

    • Actually conventional science has, or ‘did’ even, clearly establish the evidence for ‘Ape to Man’ with the completion of the respective Human and Ape Genome Projects.

      790 do please note that we did not evolve from the apes you would see today, we rather share a common ancestor with them (and, incidentally, share a specific common ancestor with each and every organism on the planet, in its own time …but I digress), who in this case was much like an ape but who had been evolved over less time than we or the modern apes.

      Our genome therefore shares a portion with our ape ‘cousins’ (actually it is more technical than that but I’m going to limit the amount of detail here for the sake of brevity) and it is this ‘portion’ which reflects the commonality of our shared ancestor.

      A symptom of this shared ancestry can be witnessed if we look at the developing embryos of our separate species. Up until a certain point of development they will look virtually identical but at a very specific point they will exhibit divergence into the babies of our respective species.

      This is actually observably true of all species on the planet…from plants to alligators to Nobel Laureates.

      Hitherto there has been no reliable evidence supplied for the existence of a ‘soul’… which does not suppose that we cannot imagine or invoke one… just that we cannot possibly say that it does definitely exist.

      Again, and I realise I’m repeating myself here: I would rather talk about this subject in private. I feel that hijacking Vic’s review for the purposes of dispelling misapprehensions about science is un-honourable at best and rather conceited at least.

      Please, if you would know more, reply to this message in kind and we can arrange something. I feel sure Vic would pass the email addresses across, he seems solid that way.

  20. Well Davyb I’m certainly not going to convince anyone they have soul.

    There’s times I wish I didn’t. :)

  21. I just saw the movie last night and it was pretty funny for the most part. I HATE Seth Rogan, but he did a great job with ‘Paul’, I think. As for the religion bashing, they had to no what type of waters they were venturing into when they make those jokes.

    Again, I thought the jokes about religion were quite funny, but I don’t have a STRONG relationship with faith in God aka whatever people want to believe in. I could see people having a strong faith getting upset over it but it isn’t the filmmakers part to worry about whose toes they are stepping on. They make less money because of the jokes, so be it. I applaud them for going for it (having the religion jokes and f bombs) and not cutting it from the movie because they were too worried what this type of audience may think/feel about it.

  22. I watched the movie and thought it was OK until the religion thing. It began pretty early and was carried on throughout the entire movie. I notice that most of the posts here are from athiests or maybe diests, but not many Christians. I figured I’d add my thoughts to the conversation from the perspective of a believer. The first anti-God joke was OK, no feelings hurt. As they persisted I got very annoyed and even nearly walked out, as most of the athiests would feel if a movie attacked your beliefs the way this movie attacked Christianity. I also thought it was bizarre thatthey would use an alien, a mythical creature, to disprove creation. Lastly, there have been many great movies that do not address religion at all, and are enjoyed by people of all religions. This movie, however, alienated many of the actors fans and yes…hurt our feelings. I happen to be a big Pegg and Rogen but will probably stay off their movies for a while (I know they wouldn’t care and aren’t losing anything by it). Anyways, why alienate a large group of people who generally love your work just to address an issue that is talked about all over the media.

  23. I’m just curious; what are some of the things this movie said about Christians? Since I’m not going to see this, I don’t care about spoilers.

  24. So I just saw this last night and was a bit disappointed. I found Edgar Wright to be noticeably absent. Pegg and Frost didn’t have the same chemistry they did in “Shaun of the Dead” or “Hot Fuzz” and they seemed to have written all the best lines for Paul.

    I completely agree with you about the first fifteen minutes Vic. It dragged until Paul showed up. Kristen Wiig did what she could, but the continuous jokes about her not cursing correctly got old… fast. As did all of the references. Some of them were funny but others I was trying to figure out where I’d heard the lines before. There was nothing that was original.

    At least with “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” they can be standalone movies in their genres (zombie and action) in addition to being parodies or those genres. “Paul” sadly cannot claim the same.

  25. Thanks for the review. I will be missing this one.

  26. @DanF,,,

    “I’m fairly certain Hitler used religion as a crutch for his wars. He was using his religious beliefs to defend his murders.”

    Hitler was an occultist with Illuminati bloodlines. :)

    • 790

      did he also create the toothpaste mind control nano bots?

      • This doesn’t seem to be getting through. I’m going to try and edit my last post. Weird, evil?
        adolf hitler was SOME TYPE OF MEMBER of this occult Thule Society, along with many other men who later began leading Nazi leaders such as Rudolf Hess. The Thule Society used the Masonic/Hindu symbol the Swastika, which the Nazi party then also used as its symbol.
        In other words the grandmother of the Nazi Party was the Masonic Lodges in Germany.

        Hitler was also a member of the Theosophical Society, which has strong Satanic and Masonic ties.

        If this has repeated itself excuse me, the frigken thing wouldn’t load on my end.

        • 790 No disrespect intended.

          I’ve been trying to out right say and also subtly hinting for years now that I have no interest in hearing the crazy things you read on the internet and then believe. Regardless of what it’s about. If you wish to say them in the future over and over again with very few people care at least have the courtesy to not make it a reply to me. I am very clearly not interested in any conspiracy you have heard and believe to be true. If you wish to talk to me (which I don’t care either way if you do or don’t) please keep it about Movies and TV shows. Anything else you have to say about the world holds no interest to me and really just annoys me to actually read the insanity you have to say.

          • Lmao.
            “the insanity you have to say.” Just replying to your initial comment.

            Everything I wrote in my comment about hitler is documented. Where’s the insanity?

            Even Speilberg touched upon the nazi occult theme in that film called,,, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

            No offense, but your deff the most closed minded athiest I’ve run across on this site, you should take that as a compilment.

    • “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a
      fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by
      a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned
      men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a
      sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a
      man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last
      rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple
      the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the
      world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years,
      with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the
      fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the
      Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated,
      but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if
      there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly
      it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a
      duty to my own people.”

      -Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed. The
      Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp.
      19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942)

  27. Testing 123

  28. @dan f, what’s it like living in the dark?
    Nevermind,,, here’s a little education for ya.
    After creating International Socialism (communism) a temporary antithesis was created called National Socialism (nazism). The process to create National Socialism was to turn again to the Masonic Lodges and other esoteric secret Societies to get it done. Therefore, the secret esoteric gnostic and satanic societies along with the Illuminati helped create “the Thule Gesellshaft” (in English the Thule Society) .

    ADOLF HITLER was SOME TYPE OF MEMBER of this occult Thule Society, along with many other men who later began leading Nazi leaders such as Rudolf Hess. The Thule Society used the Masonic/Hindu symbol the Swastika, which the Nazi party then also used as its symbol. In other words the grandmother of the Nazi Party was the Masonic Lodges in Germany.

    Hitler was also a member of the Theosophical Society, which has strong Satanic and Masonic ties.

    • 790

      So I take that’s a no to my request? Your just gonna be a jerk and continue to do it despite me asking you not.

      It’s pretty simple dude I don’t won’t your inaccurate form of education. I like the truth not distorted information and sometimes just plain made up by a bunch of loser who have nothing better to do than fudge up actual facts to make history more interesting.

      I do not want information from you.

      Tell you what if I want to know what brand of Tin Foil fits best over my head I’ll ask other than that I have no interest in anything you have to say about anything.

  29. Sound little angry there danny. Keep an eye on your blood preasure.

    Sorry don’t have any info on tin foil.