Movie Review - Paul (***1/2)

Movie Review - Paul (***1/2)
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PAUL.  100 mins .  R.  Directed by Greg Mottola.   Written by Simon Pegg & Nick Frost.

Julie and I had the chance to sneak out of the house on Sunday and catch the latest Simon Pegg-Nick Frost collaborative effort, Paul.  They wrote and star in this alien adventure comedy, though, sadly, partner-in-crime Edgar Wright (director of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) is nowhere in sight.  Instead, we've got Superbad's Greg Mottola in his place, and the results are about what you'd expect: jovial, smartly immature, R-rated fun.

Pegg and Frost load up the movie with a ton of cheeky, amusing references to the history of aliens in pop culture.  Those bits work, while the potshots they take at rural America - bigoted hunters, religious zealots, wacky federal agents - seem rather dated and obvious.  While the two clearly know a thing or two about British folk, the script could have used some tweaking for the characters across the pond.  
Seth Rogen voices the alien Paul, a foul-mouthed, cigarette-smoking slacker trying to evade the feds and get home to his planet.  Rogen may have done this schtick before in human form, and the character is certainly within his wheelhouse, but I found the performance very funny.  Between this, Kung Fu Panda, and Monsters vs. Aliens (and more), Rogen is proving himself a master at the voiceover  The CGI work on Paul is also rather impressive - realistic yet obviously animated.  It's a nice visual effect.  
Paul the movie is not as funny as you might hope, but it is tremendously likeable.  Mottola stages some lively chase sequences, and the cast is right on the money.  Apart from Pegg and Frost, who remarkably barely even register after the first reel - Paul is definitely a scene-stealer, you've got Kristen Wiig (very funny as a reformed religious nut who takes a liking to inappropriate cussing) and Jason Bateman (doing deadpan to a delicious tee - why have I never heard anybody refer to two people as "Frick" and "Fuck"?).  
It may not wow some of you (Julie was less than impressed), but as a wannabe Comic -Con geek (I've actually never been), this movie hit me right in the sweet spot.  I found myself unable to resist its ample charms, especially when you've got scenes with Spielberg calling Paul up and using him as an expert sounding board to bounce ideas off of for E.T.  

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