There always comes a point when people so brilliantly funny hit a bump in the road and veer off from their rather hilarious path, and we at Jack were so hoping that Pegg & Frost’s third instalment in their ‘Blood & Ice Cream‘ trilogy Paul would not be it. So embarrassed, gutted and a little resentful are we that we must report in our review that it really isn’t as good as it should be.
Paul sees Simon Pegg & Nick Frost play Graeme and Clive, two geeks who travel to the US for ComicCon and an alien hot-spot tour of central America, but meet more than they bargained for in Area 51 escapee Paul (voiced by Seth Rogan). Cue comedy, action and a chase across the country to catch the lovably obnoxious alien…or at least you’d think that. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the opening 15 minutes with Pegg & Frost together in their RV. It’s what the audience want and had people beaming from cheek to cheek in our local world if cine. Nay, the issues arise when Paul shows his bulbous CGI’d head.
The studio gave the British Spaced geniuses £50 million to make this movie and clearly need to ensure it makes more than that. What made Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (to an extent) so charming was that they were big ideas in a smaller world. The English sense of humour prevailed in that environment with an awkward style and a quirky poke of the funny bone. But Paul simply can’t do that. It wasn’t filmed in England, isn’t particularly English in approach and it’s main audience is a broader one. Talking to Mark Kermode recently, the duo revealed that they weren’t overly happy with the promotion of the movie with a trailer that pushed lowest common denominator humour in fart and nob gags. And to give them their due, the film really isn’t about that.
The humour is very strong in places, with a particularly great nod to Star Wars as they enter a rowdy bar; you’ll laugh out loud. The running “three tits” joke that nicely harks back to a similar “you’ve got red on you” gag from Shaun Of The Dead works really well, whilst Pegg’s nickname for Frost in ‘Sausage‘ leaves you with a warm feeling below. But where their previous work might’ve asked the audience to build a connection with the movie, Paul really struggles. The storyline is as predictable as the inevitability of a marriage to Katie Price; ensuring it runs limply towards it’s rather all too obvious climax.
With this all said, we don’t want to give it a damning review as we were still entertained. Simon Pegg is, as always, an incredibly agreeable screen presence, bouncing off his buddy Nick Frost with comfort and ease. Co-stars Kristen Wiig and Jason Bateman are their usual, tongue-in-cheek dry selves; though a running swearing joke drops the intelligence level down a peg or two. So where should the accusing point finger of blame lay you ask? Well this was the pair’s first film without Edgar Wright and his touch is sorely missed. Paul director Greg Mottola seeps his Superbad/Adventureland in your face slapstick throughout, tearing the innocent Britishness away from the film and layering it with the particularly unsurprising.
Don’t get us wrong, you’ll enjoy yourselves watching Paul. You just won’t as much as you possibly could have.