Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Paul (2011)

"Sorry you got killed by my Dad."

"That's fine."

This film obviously plays on the whole '90s "aliens and men in black" trope that was so big back then, mainly due to The X-Files. The X-Files didn't create the "men in black" trope, or that specific type of alien, but it brought it into the mainstream so that films like this could use it. This whole type of science fiction may be nearly twenty years old, but the characters are no spring chickens so it's sort of appropriate. Still, it's odd to see Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in such a very American setting and the film very much plays on that.

We start with our two British comics geeks, appropriately for Pegg's and Frost's first Hollywood film, at the San Diego Comic Con. The soundtrack, appropriately, is "Another Girl, Another Planet" by the Only Ones. They follow this, of course, with a more-eventful-than-planned road trip to Area 51, during which alien-related hi-jinks ensue and they make the acquaintance of a nice Christian fundamentalist girl. Oh, and there's a resurrection. And much riffing on E.T. 

Pegg and Frost are playing the same characters as ever, this time called Graeme and Clive, except that they play ever more middle aged versions with every passing film. This means that their characters become increasingly childlike, and this film only narrowly avoids a real bĂȘte noir of mine- an interest in sci-if, fantasy, comics and the like being used as a signifier of immaturity. Just you wait until I get to Buffy season six...

Paul himself is fantastic, and the early scenes between him, Graeme and Clive are a joy. Wonderfully, Paul smokes weed ("the stuff that killed Dylan"), has seen Predator and knows popular culture, so he should know how awkwardly close he is as a character to Roger from American Dad.

This is a superbly funny film with some very witty riffs on various tropes and a sublimely high standard of swearing. 

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