“ Paul”  (A Nickell-odeon Review)

April 19, 2011

Skeptics will enjoy Paul, an unrelenting spoof on the alien-film genre.

The story begins slowly, with two British sci-fi nerds (played by veteran comedy stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) attending a Comic-Con festival, then heading off in their RV for a tour of such UFO "hot spots" as Roswell. In the desert they encounter a little grey humanoid (who appears to have traveled from the distant Planet Latex, or, alternately, to have been one of the alien figures on my office shelves that has suddenly come to life). As the duo get over their fright, they agree to help the extraterrestrial, whose name is Paul, flee the planet. Among the movie's memorable sight gags, when fugitive Paul has climbed aboard his newfound friends' vehicle, one of them urgently strips off the "ALIEN ON BOARD" bumper sticker.

As it happens, Paul—who turns out to have been at Area 51 (the top-secret military facility) for the past six decades—has picked up the cigarette habit and a penchant for being a wiseacre. Comic action ensues, and, when a young woman is accidentally kidnapped by the trio, her Christian-fundamentalist father falls into pursuit behind men-in-black agents commanded by The Big Guy (Sigourney Weaver).

From here on the space-age Keystone Cops pursue ET, culminating in a final rendezvous with Paul's alien friends' spaceship (Close Encounters fans will not miss the symbolism) waiting at Wyoming's Devil's Tower—another great sight gag.

Paul is rated R for coarse language and drug use (i.e., marijuana smoking around a campfire), but it is redeemed by some brilliant comedy which includes funny social satire and insightful spoofing of the burgeoning alien mythology.

Rating: Three wooden nickels (out of four)

Three Nickels