The other night I saw the new Simon Pegg movie Paul. Wasn’t sure what to expect from this one, but Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (both Simon Pegg movies) were both good enough to make me give this a chance. Not that I normally need such a track record to see a Sci-Fi movie…
This is the story of a little green man, and his escape from our Government. All he want’s to do is go home, you know, like another little spaceman we met in the 1980’s. During his escape he happens upon a couple of sci-fi geeks from England whom he convinces to give him a lift, and obviously ends up bonding with.
The premise is simple, it’s basically a ‘road trip’ movie for the Science Fiction genre, and that’s a movie with a very specific target audience. But one that has the potential to appeal to a much broader set. Sure, it geeks it up. It was full of references to comic books and other movies, but for the most part, they are references everyone will get. You’ve seen E.T. right?
The thing that really surprised me though, was for a comedy, how good the visuals really were. The character of Paul himself was excellent. Like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, but more natural looking, more fluid. I suppose they’ve improved on the technology since 2003, but I was honestly impressed, and special effects are not so easy to impress me with anymore. I think it comes back to expectations, when you see a Battle LA or something like Tron: Legacy, you know the effects are going to be great, so the only way they can ‘wow’ you, is in a bad way. If you notice them because they suck. But for a comedy? These far exceeded expectations, to the point you almost forget Paul isn’t really there with the actors, but instead its Joe Lo Truglio on his knees, covered in motion capture sensors.
Speaking of the cast, it was outstanding. In addition to my main motivations for wanting to see this: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the movie also features multiple alum from Arrested Development – Jeffery Tambor plays ‘Adam Shadowchild’, a famous Sci-Fi writer, and Jason Bateman is the lead G-Man that’s chasing our protagonists.
Then borrowed from the current SNL cast, we get Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. Wiig plays the one-eyed love interest for Pegg, and Hader, along with the aforementioned Joe Lo Truglio, play Bateman’s underlings. Then, the behind the scenes antagonist, whose voice should be immediately identifiable to Sci-Fi fans, is played by Ellen Ripley herself – Sigourney Weaver.
Now I’ve already mentioned that Joe Lo Turglio actually played Paul, this is because the heavily advertised star handling Paul’s voice – Seth Rogen, was busy filming The Green Hornet. He later added the voice work. Now, I’ve talked to a few people lately that said they were just burnt out on Seth Rogen, and for that reason they didn’t really want to see this, but I have to tell you, I thought he did an excellent job. The voice, for me at least, came off a natural and I really enjoyed it.
The movie, ended up actually being more touching and heartfelt than expected too, but not in an overly cheesy manner. Director Greg Mottola (whose resume totally explains how he was able to land this cast) flew under the radar a bit here. He wont get the attention or credit he deserves because of the subject of the movie, but this turned out better than I expected, and I certainly enjoyed it more than his most acclaimed film – Adventureland.