Oozing with comic-book lore, America’s UFO heartland and all things Speilberg/Lucas, the comedy-adventure, “Paul,” celebrates the gods of geekdom. And while this alien venture is somewhat of a spoof on the science-fiction genre, it ultimately becomes a love-letter to classic sci-fi of the 1970s and 80s – most notably “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.” Without further ado, here are 3 filmmaking tips from Greg Mottola’s “Paul.”
Director Greg Mottola (“Superbad,” “Adventureland”) does an adept job of embedding Spielberg’s visual influence into the story. Mottola, who went to art school before becoming a director, was very involved in the visuals and reportedly spent three months before production working with storyboard artist, J. Todd Anderson, refining the visuals of the film.
The real creative flow of the film, however, belongs to British acting duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who both received co-screenwriting credits. “Paul” marks the first screenplay collaboration of Pegg and Frost and most of the humor works seamlessly. Pegg and Frost are famously known for their instant cult classics, “Shaun of the Dead,” and “Hott Fuzz,” both directed by Edgar Wright. Although, “Paul” doesn’t exactly live up to those cinematic gems, there is enough wit and charm spread throughout the film to make up for its flaws.
Pegg and Frost star as best friends Graeme Willy (Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Frost), two nerds who saved for their entire lives to take a trip to track the legendary hot spots of extraterrestrial activity. When passing through Area 51, their plans are derailed when they encounter a real life extraterrestrial named Paul (Seth Rogen).
Where the film starts to fall apart, however, is in the overuse of great actors in forgettable roles. The film is packed full of cameos including Jeffrey Tambor, Jane Lynch, Jason Batemen, Bill Hader, but each role grows more forgettable than the last. Additionaly, several action sequences seem to schlep on without the same humor Pegg and Frost featured in past hits like “Hot Fuzz.”
Despite its many flaws, “Paul” is kept alive because of the chemistry between Simon Pegg and his close friend Nick Frost and their effortless interaction. And while many critics and some audience members seem to have grown tired of Rogen, his stoner-esque quality was toned down enough in “Paul” to create a charming and sometimes lovable alien.