Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who have co-starred in a series of comedies, are back in a movie they also co-wrote. This time they play a couple of English sci-fi (and I do mean sci-fi) enthusiasts who come to the U.S. on a joint vacation to attend the San Diego Comicon (which looks like it might be worth a visit just for the sheer quantity of Princess Leahs in slave-girl costumes) and then tour UFO sites of the Southwest in a giant rented RV.
Before too long they meet the title character, an alien who survived the crash of his spaceship sixty-some years ago and has since then been a secret guest of the U.S. government, growing thoroughly Americanized to the point that he sounds exactly like Seth Rogen and looking like a younger version of former Congressman Ron Paul, which come to think of it may be where his name comes from. (He was even a consultant on E.T., and in a flashback we see him on the phone with Spielberg.) But events have convinced him to escape and go home, so naturally Pegg and Frost have to up help. Meanwhile federal agents of varying levels of competence are in pursuit.
(Incidentally, a lot of people don’t like Seth Rogen, considering his comedy too gross and disgusting, and they have a point. But here’s something about Seth Rogen worth knowing: Three years ago he married a screenwriter named Lauren Miller, whose mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Since Rogen is rich, he’s able to pay for round-the-clock home care for his mother-in-law, but most people can’t do that, so he’s lately arranged to offer grants to help less-well-off people in the same situation pay for in-home care as well. This is on top of the money he’s donating to Alzheimer’s research.)
In the course of things, Pegg, Frost, and the alien spend the night at an RV park run by a big, stern, fundamentalist Christian guy and his timid, oppressed daughter, the latter played by Kristen Wiig, a very appealing former SNL star . (She co-wrote and starred in the highly successful comedy Bridesmaids (2011), which was a lot grosser than this film.)
Her faith says aliens can’t exist, so meeting Paul convinces her that everything she believed is wrong and that she ought to start doing all the things she’d been told she shouldn’t, staring with cursing, which she’s not very good at.
There are some interesting extras showing the considerable amount of work that went into integrating the computer-generated Paul character with the live action, something that often required tweaking ing some of the real-world imagery, such as the clothing of people interacting physically with Paul, to make the results look exactly right.
Paul isn’t a great film, but I enjoyed it, especially the climax, which quotes from E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind but is more fun than either. (I’m probably in the minority on this, but I couldn’t stand E.T.)