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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews


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4_Chicks_Small  Judy Thorburn

Las Vegas Round The Clock -
Women's Film Critic Circle -
Nevada Film Critics Society -
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Attention movie trivia fans. Here is how the idea for Paul came to be. Actor/writer Simon Pegg who co wrote and costars with collaborator and fellow Brit, Nick Frost in their film, Paul, said in a recent televised interview, and this is verbatim, “While making Shaun of the Dead, we were trying to figure out a way to make a movie where it didn't rain and we thought, let's make a film in the desert. We'll go to Nevada. That is where there are aliens, apparently, so we will have two British tourists and an alien. That was the spit balled idea. Seven years later, after we had done Hot Fuzz and Star Trek, (we said) why don't we make the film we thought about then.”

Now that you know the scoop on the film's origin, the following is is my review of the final product. In short, Paul is the funniest film of the year, so far, with hilarious voice over work by Seth Rogan as the the titled character and a supporting cast that is a hoot.

The story goes like this. After attended San Diego's Comic-Con convention, a pair of visiting British sci fi fans and comic book nerds, sci fi writer Clive Gollings (Frost) and his best friend, illustrator Graeme Willy (Pegg) embark on a road trip in their RV to all the UFO hot spots across the southwest including Roswell and Nevada's Area 51

While traveling on the Extraterrestrial Highway they come across and pick up a real life alien, appearing in the form of a personable, cool, green skinned little guy with a bald head, huge catlike eyes, a tattoo of a peace sign on his right shoulder, wearing a back pack, flip flops and cargo shorts. He calls himself Paul, chains smokes, has a few special powers (no spoiler here), and says he got his name from a dog after his spaceship crash landed and killed the poor thing outside his young owner's remote country home back in 1947. Captured by the government, he was kept prisoner in a secret military base for sixty years until his recent escape, that finds him as a fugitive on the run with the hope of returning to his Mother ship. Of course, Clive and Graeme conveniently show up as the two guys willing to help.

Director Greg Mottola keeps the story moving at a brisk pace. Essentially a road trip comedy adventure, Paul is lots of fun, with occasional bits of raunchy, but not over the top, dialogue and sight gags, and a variety of characters met along the way. They include Jane Lynch (of TVs Glee) in a bouffant, blonde wig as the friendly proprietor/waitress of The Little Al'e'inn diner in Rachel, Nevada that caters to UFO enthusiasts. During a stop at the Pearly Gates RV Park, Clive and Graeme accidentally kidnap Ruth, a sexually repressed, fundamentalist Christian (SNL's Kristin Wiig) with a blind eye, who wears a creationist t-shirt picturing Jesus shooting Darwin. Upon spending time with the boys and the alien on board, Ruth has a rude awakening that makes her question her beliefs and allows her to be set free, spewing words and have feelings that were forbidden.

Meanwhile, chasing after them are a few men in black (SNL's Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio), Federal Agent Zoil (Jason Batemen) taking orders from an unseen voice (that of Sigourney Weaver, who makes a brief, cameo appearance at the end), Ruth's bible thumping, gun toting Dad, and a pair of angry, vengeful hillbillies.

Pegg who grew up in the U.K. watching and being a fan of American films has said,“The film is a complete homage to American cinema and those great sci fi movies”. That is evident as the film is filled with elements and sly references from E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Men in Black, Star Wars and more. Pay close attention and you can hear Steven Spielberg lending his voice to a scene and the title of his first movie, Duel, appears on a movie theatre marquee.

Paul is an entertaining romp that could be described as an out of this world comedy sci fi fans should enjoy. On a personal note, I don't know if we earthlings have been visited by creatures from outer space, but if we ever really do come face to face with one, I would hope it will come in peace and be as as friendly, funny, and charming as this fictional, movie alien.


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