I’m going to start by clearing up a little confusion that I know some people have had with this movie; this is not the promised third entry in the ‘Blood and Ice-Cream’ trilogy with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost following Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. If it was going to be the third installment, it would be directed by Edgar Wright. And a hell of a lot more British. Yes, the main reason this does not fit in with that trilogy is the fact that Pegg and Frost are now big in America, and fully exploit this fact in Paul, a passion project which, thanks to their now rather large status in the industry, has seen the light of day. It is a much different beast to the likes of Shaun and Hot Fuzz thanks to the very large American influences, as Pegg and Frost are the only British talents here. But where as this may disappoint some people, it gives the duo new territory to work in and they manage to pull off an enjoyable movie with some nice Sci-Fi references.

The story follows Pegg and Frost as Graham and Clive, two English best friends who are on the trip of a lifetime to America, starting off at the San Diego Comic Con before moving on to a road trip across the States, stopping off at the most infamous UFO sights in the country. But whilst on this trip, they stumble across a foul-mouthed extra-terrestrial who goes by the name of Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), who has lived on Earth for the best part of 60 years. But now, Paul is desperate for help as he is trying to get home but has the Government hot on his tail with the intentions of killing him. Graham and Clive agree to help, both excited and perplexed by the situation they have found themselves in. With Government officials hot on their tails and time running out, the three go on a mad-capped road trip featuring hillbilly’s, religious fanatics, inept FBI agents… and Sigourney Weaver.

Written by Pegg and Frost, the story does start bad. The dialogue is pretty weak and the two of them just seem to be having fun without us, it’s very self-indulgent. I was worried at the start but once the ball gets rolling and Paul is introduced, the film finds its feet. The story itself is pretty average, filled to the brim with every Sci-Fi cliché under the sun, it even features fireworks to signal the alien mothership. But these clichés are quite forgivable as they make the film fun and give a nice sense of familiarity mixed in with the unconventional character of Paul. The clichés are also nicely tied in with some really fun Sci-Fi references, mostly revolved around the movies of Steven Spielberg. Some are more subtle than others, Devil’s Tower wasn’t really subtle, but the bar music mirroring Star Wars was rather a cool touch. The jokes are slick enough, just not as inventive or as fresh as Shaun and Hot Fuzz, perhaps because Edgar Wright is missing, but it is the scenes shared between the two of them and Paul that the jokes really shine. The humour does become a bit too Americanized in the process. Yes, there are a few good British witticisms here and there but I wish there had been more, so the two of them kept some form of national identity as the film gets to a point where you don’t really see the point in these two guys being British.  

The characterisation is fairly decent, Graham and Clive don’t really go anywhere, but Kristen Wigg’s Ruth developes nicely from religious fanatic to a foul-mouthed wild card. The acting as well is as dependable as you’d expect from both the British and American talent that is on display, the American one’s shining through a lot more. Pegg and Frost are at their weakest here, as they don’t really seem to be playing a character of any sort, whereas in the likes of Shaun and Hot Fuzz they seemed to have much more defined characters . The best character here though, by far, is Paul. I wasn’t too sure on the choice of Seth Rogen doing the voice for Paul, but he works really well for the character, supported by some quite impressive CGI work on the character. The character is crude and rude, but brings with him a certain charm, representing the spirit of the whole movie really.  

Most of the jokes are successful, but I don’t think Pegg and Frost are as strong a writing duo as Pegg is with Edgar Wright. Paul is a lot of fun, and Superbad’s director Greg Mottola certainly keeps things going at a steady pace, it never slackens or becomes boring. It’s just not a film which really developes a great deal. Then again, I guess it’s not really the sort of film that calls for it. And it may be unfair to compare it to Shaun and Hot Fuzz, the main reason being, they’re a lot better. But if you’re a bit of movie buff and Sci-Fi nerd (why are you all staring at me?) there is plenty to enjoy and it is a very funny film that does the job for an enjoyable Friday night out following a day visiting Warwick University. Or, you know, any other Friday night at the cinema.

3/5- Pegg and Frost have done better, but this doesn’t stop Paul from being a funny, enjoyable and charmingly crude comedy, which also acts as a nice love letter to Spielberg and other Sci-fi classics.

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