Saw the new comedy from Greg Mottola, Paul, over the weekend. I was nervous about this movie because of the lackluster trailer/commercials and poor reviews, but I liked the talent involved, and I ended up being pleasantly surprised.
It’s not a great movie, and it’s certainly not the funniest movie ever created, but it gets the job done. It’s entertaining. That’s all that really matters for a movie like Paul. There was never a point in the third act where I was thinking to myself “When is this crap going to end…?“ That's always a good sign.
Its tone is that of a lighthearted road trip / buddy movie. Except, where it succeeds in that regard, is in the fact that it’s a road trip movie that doesn’t have to stop at every wacky location and meet zany characters. Paul relies on the comic value of its main characters. Sure, there are cameos sprinkled in from time to time (like Jane Lynch and David Koechner), but they aren’t typical freaks supplied for one-time gross-out laughs (like for example, every character you would meet in a Harold and Kumar movie). In Paul, good times are had by Pegg, Frost, Wiig, and the alien just by hanging out in the RV and at campsites. There was no need for Paul to stop off in a sex dungeon with a dominatrix played by Andy Dick just for a laugh.
One big surprise was how well done Paul’s (the character) existence was in the film. I thought he blended in real well; from a special effects standpoint, and also from a voice acting standpoint. Having Seth Rogen as voice talent may seem like a bad idea, but Paul ends up really feeling like one of the guys. It was a surprisingly natural performance from a CGI character. But from a logical standpoint (something you shouldn't bring to a comedy like this if you want to have a good time), why an alien who has been hanging around at Area 51 for 60 years would end up acting like Seth Rogen, well, I don't know? It's just a movie, I guess...
There’s plenty of pop culture references and funny homages to other classic alien movies throughout. And once again, it’s just a decently enjoyable comedy filled with likable characters. And like Mottola’s other films, Superbad and Adventureland, he at least attempts to mix some emotionally driven material in with the laughs. So while it’s no Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, Paul is still a worthwhile Pegg/Frost joint. “It’s not fat, it’s power!”
So, what pecentage of this film is stoner humor?
Just a couple of scenes. 10%
I finally rented the theatrical cut of "Paul". It was fine light entertainment, but I felt the script was afraid to explore some of the deeper implications of the situations in the film. Doing so would have upped the seriousness quotient of the film, but also maybe the dramatic payoff. As it is, it was a fluffy little disposable and non-memorable comedy. Not like that's a BAD thing. Just that I expected a lot more, and th cast was capable of giving more. The story/plotline is where it was weak.