bill bodkin reviews Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s sci-fi comedy …
I must preface this review with the following: I am an unabashed fan of Simon Pegg. Since I first saw Shaun Of The Dead in 2007, I have become a die-hard Peggster. I believe he is one the premier comedic actor of our current generation due to his amazing timing and razor-sharp wit. His writing-style is absolutely brilliant, as he’s able to create characters and situations that can break your heart and make your laugh until you cry literally within seconds of each other.
I must also preface the review with the following: I have absolutely hated the marketing campaign for Paul. The entire focus has been on the smart-alecky alien voiced by Seth Rogen. Pegg and Nick Frost, who wrote the script, are shoved to the background, like they were bit players in a CGI gross-out comedy. Where’s that wanky British humor that was so prevalent in the trailers for Hot Fuzz?
As I bought my tickets for Paul this afternoon, I did so with some trepidation: Would Hollywood ruin the first co-written script by Pegg and best friend Frost? I was concerned. Yet, before I headed out to the theater I caught this phrase from Peter Travers’ review in Rolling Stone: “it’s the byplay between Frost and Pegg that roots the laughs in characters we care about. That’s right: characters.”
My fears were relieved … I could enjoy the movie.
And enjoy it I did.
To be honest, Paul is not the best we’ve seen from Pegg. It’s a definite No. 3 after Shaun and Fuzz. Maybe that’s due to a lack of director Edgar Wright, whose style and directorial panache perfectly fits Pegg and Frost’s comedic antics or maybe it could’ve been a bit longer to allow us to delve into the relationship between Pegg and Frost. Whatever it is, this is not the best we’ve seen from these Brits.
Yet to me “not the best” from Simon Pegg is the equivalent of pretty damn good from everyone else.
Paul is a fun, at times lighthearted, look at how two sci-fi nerds would react if they met and had to help an alien. As per usual Pegg, there are tons of in-jokes and references to classic sci-fi films, Pegg and Frost’s previous films and even their personal lives. (My favorite being how everyone believes their characters are a couple, which totally plays off the duo’s playful real-life “bromance.”) These in-jokes and references ups the films rewatchability, calling for the audience to catch all the little winks and nods.
Going back to the Travers review, the real laughs come from the interaction of the characters, which is classic Pegg. The characters are loveable, human, and you feel a definite connection with them, especially if you grew up or are still a nerd. Pegg and Frost have a natural chemistry and work brilliant together. And while I hated what I saw from the alien in the trailer, I have to admit, Rogen was the perfect choice as the voice of the alien. His laid-back stoner swagger fits Pegg and Frost’s script perfectly. The interaction and chemistry he has with the Brits makes the film really, really enjoyable. I could just watch them talk about nothing for hours and still get the same enjoyment out of it. The supporting cast, in particular Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio are fantastic. They all add this real oddball and out-there sense of humor that brings in the real belly laughs.
So in the end, if you’re looking for a damn good comedy, you need to see Paul. While I wasn’t blow out of my seat by the film, I still enjoyed seeing Pegg and Frost on the big screen, making me laugh and bringing that smile across my face as only one of their in-jokes can.