Action, 114 Minutes, 2011
I deeply, truly enjoyed this. Basically it seems that every few years Simon Pegg and Nick Frost give us a classic comedy. Of course “Sean of the Dead” is still (and will probably always remain) the pinnacle of their work, but “Paul” definitely shoves “Hot Fuzz” to the bottom of the heap.
Casting is impeccable (both Jason Batemen and Kristen Wiig are completely underrated and it’s nice to see them moving up as they deserve). Everybody, even the villains for the most part, are likable and human; almost as if the movie was loath to make you really dislike anybody.
The story moves smoothly and smartly without devolving too much into silliness. There are very few slow spots and the climax gets a little more serious than it might have needed to be, but the ending is suitably heartwarming and uplifting if a little forgivably clichéd.
Some may find the humor a bit raunchy but it’s never mean-spirited and despite a bonanza of four-letter-words there’s very little toilet or sexual humor (what there is generally worth the momentary visit to the lowest-common-denominator). The number of inside geek jokes is impressive without being oppressive or alienating to those out-of-the-know.
Others may be upset at the treatment of evangelical Christians but then again I doubt many young-Earth-creationists will have ended up in the audience. Paul seems significantly more upset at the belief that the Earth is 5,000 years old than at the idea of being dissected (a sentiment I must admit I share with him). I found this aspect hilarious and hope to see more popular culture taking on the wackier Christian beliefs with this kind of forcefulness.
“Paul” can be taken in many ways and it’s clear that some threads had an agenda. However it’s easiest to simply enjoy it as a smart, well-produced comedy with a surprisingly successful gimmick.