Writer-stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have already delivered a pair of hysterical genre spoofs in Shaun of the Dead (zombie horror) and Hot Fuzz (buddy-cop action). With Paul, they turn their attention to sci-fi for a genial and very funny comedy that is both affectionate homage and sly parody of Spielberg’s ET.
The duo play nerdy British sci-fi fans Graeme Willy (Pegg) and Clive Collings (Frost), who are touring America’s UFO hotspots in an RV motorhome when they run into an extraterrestrial who has just escaped from a top-secret government facility.
Voiced by Seth Rogan, the eponymous Paul couldn’t be further from the innocent ET. A pot-smoking, beer-drinking wiseass in board-shorts and flip-flops, who has been on Earth since his spacecraft crashed in 1947, he too is seeking to go home and finds willing helpers in Graeme and Clive.
The threesome set off for Paul’s rendezvous point, pursued by a trio of men in black led by Jason Bateman’s Special Agent Zoil and a pair of redneck louts they have inadvertently riled. Along the way, they pick up Kristen Wiig’s Jesus freak, Ruth, adding her gun-toting zealot father to the ranks of pursuers and allowing the filmmakers to poke outrageous fun at Christian fundamentalists and Creationism.
Directed by Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland), rather than Pegg and Frost’s usual collaborator Edgar Wright (otherwise engaged, at the time, on Scott Pilgrim vs the World), Paul is slacker than the duo’s previous efforts, but the gags still come thick and fast, as do the fanboy in-jokes and geeky film references. As the foul-mouthed, snarky alien, Rogan is in excellent form after his Green Hornet letdown and there are some great cameos too. Look out for an actress famed for an iconic sci-fi role and, yes, a certain esteemed director.
Released on DVD & Blu-ray on 13th June.