Monday, March 21, 2011

Review: "Paul"

The problem with Paul is not that it's not well made.  Nor even that it isn't funny.  The problem with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's new genre spoof is that even though it is both of these things, it suffers from simply being too much fun.

What has marked their past forays (and frankly has made them worth watching) is an intimate understanding of the conventions and pacing of the genres in which they were working.  Shaun of the Dead combined traditional zombie genre fun with timely and astute comedic observations about the like.  Again with Hot Fuzz, they parlayed their in depth knowledge of buddy cop movies into an entertaining and silly romp through that world.  But with Paul they seem to have stepped outside their comfort zone and into something with which perhaps they are less familiar.  With this genre, it seems, they may have simply decided to write a film they thought would be fun rather than playing to their strengths and really getting into the conventions.

Paul, as a film, seems to suffer from too many silly jokes being milked for all their worth rather than their being rooted in he conventions of he genre.  Because it is here that they excel, when they are gently tweaking the conventions of a genre and paying homage to it rather than "taking the piss."  And they do spend a lot of time during the course of the film, making fun of Sci Fi and the people who like it.  The problem is that rather than being a part of the joke, this time there's a feeling that Pegg and Frost may be laughing at the audience rather than with them.  What's more, without friend Edgar Wright in the director's chair, their signature wink wink moments of self referential dialogue and silly genre quotes seem a little tired and some of the jokes (i.e. the repeated almost anti-Cristian pokes at Kirsten Wiig's character) are mean spirited and really unfunny.

While I enjoyed some of the jokes, and there was at least one twist I didn't see coming, for me the film fell flat.  As a longtime admirer of the pair and fan of their work and with an overabundance of quality talent along for the ride, I expected more.  Ultimately I would suggest picking up a copy of the British tv series that started it all: Spaced instead of heading out to see this one.  It unfortunately amounts to one joke spread a little too thin although from all accounts they had a great time making it.

My rating: 2.5 stars out of 4


  1. I can understand what you mean about it being silly. I might go see it on Friday after school/before we all get together since I still have coupons.

  2. And after there will need to be a round of this game: