I have to confess that this is the first film I ever saw when I originally signed up for Netflix, but that’s not something I’m ashamed of. According to Sigourney Weaver, Paul, a 2011 film directed by Greg Mottola, is a love letter to sci-fi fans. “I jumped at the chance to be in it,” she said. “To find a comedy that also pays homage to sci-fi is a dream come true.
How beautifully poetic since Weaver has starred in one of the most iconic sci-fi films of all time and trailblazed the way for heroines. Weaver brilliantly pulls a 180 in this film as a woman in charge who is a mix of Ripley and T-1000 (though without powers). Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who wrote the film, have stated that Paul is a love letter to Steven Spielberg and his movies, E.T and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. How beautifully ironic that Spielberg agreed to do a voice cameo in the most genius way possible.
I was drawn to this film due to the talents of Kristin Wiig (Saturday Night Live), Simon Pegg( Mission Impossible 3, Star Trek, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), and Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead). I was surprised comedic wizards Bill Hader, Jason Bateman, Jane Lynch, and Joe Lo Truglio joined in on this R-rated adventure. Also, I just want to hug Blythe Danner. She is too precious for this world.
The bread and butter of this film is arguably Seth Rogen. Rogen, with his gruff voice and laugh, boasts comedic alchemy chops that are unreal. He provides the voice and motion capture for PAUL (Paranoid Alien Ultra Life-Force)
Paul is pretty much Seth Rogen if he got turned into an alien. He is trying to reach a rendezvous point so his alien brethren can take him home. Oh, and he has to outrun the likes of evil Ripley. Frost and Pegg are Graeme Willy and Clive Gollings. They are geeks of the highest caliber who are traveling cross country to attend the San Diego Comic-Con. They encounter Paul and hilarity ensues. Kristin Wiig plays a kind-hearted, sheltered, and devout woman of faith, Ruth Buggs, whose reality is changed by Paul.
Paul has immersed himself in American culture and develops a wicked sense of humor akin to the real-life Rogen. This film is a wild ride of comedy, action, and heart, thanks to the interactions with Danner and Rogen, Wiig and Pegg, and Pegg and Frost. The dynamic duo from England has excellent chemistry, and it has shown time and time again in their films. The third act is an emotional roller coaster, and the ending is so heartwarming to see these two geeks succeed. It was especially inspiring for me because I’m a guy who wants to be a storyteller. It was nice to see the journey of these two and, better yet, how much success Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have attained, all of which is well deserved.
It was a truly enjoyable experience, and looking back, it is wonderful how people are inspired by greats like Sigourney Weaver and Steven Spielberg, and they create works of wonder. Think about your favorite show or movie and find out who made it and what they liked when they were younger. The results are surprising in the best way possible, and films like Paul serve as love-letters to the works of cinema that came before.