This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com
Two nerds, struggling sci-fi writer Clive Gollings (Nick Frost) and illustrator Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg) take a road trip across the USA’s purported UFO hotspots, soon coming across a crashed car. Investigating, they find it was being driven by an alien, named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogan).
Getting over the initial shock, Paul reveals he has escaped from a government installation and is desperately trying to get away. Having little else to do, our two geek heros decide to harbour the fugitive and help him escape from Jason Bateman’s G-man, and his two useless underlings, played by Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio.
Comedy arises, I suppose, from Paul’s character hardly being based in normal genre stereotypes. He is, as the poster would have us believe, a joker and a slacker. Basically, Seth Rogan, then. Which fits, as both Pegg and Frost are again playing themselves, so why should’t the guy that’s only doing a voice over play himself.
Most of the biggest laughs come from jabs or references to other Sci-Fi flicks, so this would seem to park its target audience squarely in the same geek area as the two leads. By this point you should know what to expect from Pegg and Frost, so I imagine you’ve already got a good enough idea if you’re going to like this or not.
I’m not overly impressed, myself. It’s consistently just funny enough to feel that I didn’t have to write a sternly worded letter to the Times on leaving the cinema, but it’s hardly terrifically funny and seem to lack the usual flair and inventiveness that Pegg and Frost can bring, most notable when paired with their usual director Edgar Wright. Superbad and Adventureland director Greg Mottola doesn’t seem to have got the usual energy from the pair, and the interplay between them seems a little flat.
I’m not sure what an alien sounds like, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t sound like Seth Rogan. This disconnect doesn’t help mask the compositing of the CG alien much, and as such Paul never really looks to be in the same place and time as the meat and bone actors in the film. It’s a trifle disconcerting, and kinda irrelevant for a comedy, but it doesn’t make it any more forgivable.
There’s not much to the plot, but then there rarely is on road trip movies. There is, however, just enough in the way of chuckles to earn Paul a guarded recommendation to those familiar with the genre, but I can’t help but feel the mainstream audience this apparently has crossed over into, if audience numbers are to be believed, are going to leave a little disappointed.