Friday, August 19, 2011

Movie: Paul

We went to a friend's house to watch a movie tonight and since someone else said that Paul was really good, I picked it as the movie to see. Although it wasn't a complete waste of an hour and a half, I kind of wish I'd chosen another movie.

The movie is about a couple of English guys (the guys from Shaun of the Dead) traveling to the US for Comic-Con and some alien/UFO tourist activities. They manage to pick up an alien - Paul, who crash-landed here about 60 years ago - who convinces them to take him north so that he can go home. Along the way, they run into a couple of good ol' Southern boys, some devoutly religious people, and a couple of government agencies all while having some eye-opening experiences.

I'm pretty sure that this is one of the "hilarity ensues" movies, as in "English nerds come to America, pick up an escaped extra-terrestrial alien, and hilarity ensues." There are lots of jokes (some of them funny), lots of references to other movies and UFO culture, and lots of situation comedy.

One thing I especially liked was the animated alien itself. The skin and eyes were especially well done, as was the compositing. It looked very close to real (although not quite perfect). The story is also all right and some of the jokes are definitely funny.

However, this movie is not without flaws. Seth Rogen voices the title alien and although he's funny and laid-back and all, I found that his voice just didn't sound quite right. Part of it was the disconnect between the animated/puppet alien and the voice: the facial expressions and voice didn't always match up. Part of it was also that the alien sounded like a teenaged stoner. Maybe that's supposed to be part of the hilarity of the movie but I found it a little disconcerting.

The main problem with this movie is its lack of pacing. The funny bits are surrounded by lulls of varying lengths. There's no sense of escalating hilarity or build-up to the end; instead, things build up just a bit only to fall really flat afterward. Worse, some of the jokes are taken much too far. Yes, I know that aliens meeting fundamentally religious people is funny the first time. The second time, not so much. The third time, the funny is gone.

Overall, Paul is an ok movie. Although it has its problems, the story is interesting, and from a technical standpoint it's quite good. It isn't worth full theatre prices but if you're at all interested in this kind of movie, it's worth watching for free.

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