Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are together again in 'Paul,' a sci-fi comedy that finds the 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz' stars reuniting to go on a road trip to Comic-Con. Their lives are (flip) turned upside-down when they pick up an escaped alien (voiced by Seth Rogen) outside of Area 51. The film just had its U.K. premiere, and some early reviews are turning up online. What's the consensus on 'Paul' so far? Read on for some choice quotes.
THR has the most positive review of the film to date, with critic Ray Bennett heaping lavish amounts of praise on Pegg, Frost and director Greg Mottola:
With great gags, lots of clever little moments and a winning, almost-human story at the center to leaven the big action sequences, the film should please devoted fans of the genre with its savvy attention to detail. But also it should appeal to those who generally can take or the leave the genre, which it treats with cheerful disrespect. Box-office riches lie in wait, as it is exactly the kind of film that fans will want to see more than once.
Bennett goes on to add that the film is so laden with references and in-jokes that anyone who spots them all is deserving of an award. This is just the kind of thing that should appeal to the target audience of the film (sci-fi and comic geeks), so it seems like the film hits the mark.
Hit the jump for more thoughts on 'Paul.'
Michael Edwards at Obsessed With Film echoes the geek-reference sentiments but overall finds the film slightly less enthralling than his THR counterpart. In his piece, Edwards points out that actress Kristen Wiig is excellent as a devout Christian who has an anti-religious awakening, but that she ...
... almost overbalances the bromance side of the story." He goes on to add "...when Ruth is introduced the tension is diluted somewhat, flabby scenes are introduced to try and produce some more sexual (and non-sexual) energy into the proceedings, but all this serves to do is slow things down.
Wiig's character's religious conversion, and the film's overall treatment of Christianity, might be an issue for some audiences, but HeyUGuys thinks it's a non-issue overall.
The sub plot involving her anti-religious awakening and the unwavering faith of her father will undoubtedly result in some misguided controversy but despite this critical undercurrent the handling of the religious themes never comes across as mean spirited. The inclusion of this in the script also seems like an obvious choice considering the religious fervour that has risen in popular American culture recently and it feels like a natural part of the 'Brits in America' side to the film.
Den of Geek also finds 'Paul' to be quite impressive -- particularly Pegg and Frost -- despite Paul Martinovic's casual indifference to it prior to his viewing.
'Paul' is one of the funniest comedies to hit cinemas in a while, with an enviable gag:hit ratio, great performances and some surprisingly great FX work. Time will tell if the Pegg/Frost double act has the mileage to become one of the great screen double acts, but right now, they're three for three.
One of the biggest concerns going into 'Paul' was how the film would turn out without Edgar Wright at the helm. Pegg, Frost and Wright have an established chemistry from their previous work, and while Mottola has earned praise for 'Superbad' and 'Adventureland,' critics aren't feeling as kind about his work behind the camera in this film. Several reviews take Mottola to task, especially Obsessed With Film:
The direction by Greg Mottola is tame and illustrates two things quite clearly: firstly, Pegg and Frost are pedestrian without the visual flair of Edgar Wright to provide the punch to their lines, secondly, Mottola's work in 'Adventureland' and 'Superbad' have been vastly overrated. The two films were average at best, and the best parts were carried by some quality acting and clever scripting.
Despite some negatives, critics seem to like the film as a whole. It's apparently not on par with 'Shaun of the Dead' or 'Hot Fuzz,' but it still has a lot of heart, which makes up for some shortcomings according to Filmshaft:
'Paul' is a well crafted balance of Yank and Brit comedy, that while never quite scaling the heights to 'Shaun' or 'Fuzz' levels, is full of plenty of laughs and lots of heart. Pegg and Frost's chemistry is as adorable as always and there are also plenty of great cameos: best of all being Sigourney Weaver, who beats everyone up and brings the house down twice...
'Paul' is set to make its American debut on March 18, not long after it premieres at the SXSW Film Festival. What do you think of these early reviews? Are you more jazzed to see Pegg and Wright team up with a weed-smoking alien voiced by Seth Rogen, or is the lack of Edgar Wright behind the camera enough to put you off seeing this one?