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This Week's Movie ReviewPaul
Three stars

POSTED BY MICHAEL A. SMITH, March 17, 2011    Share

Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Seth Rogen
Directed by: Greg Mottola
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hours 44 minutes

Wyoming. 1947. A young girl wakes up at the sound of her dog barking. She opens the front door to quiet him only to be blinded by a bright light. Worried about her dog she calls out into the night “Paul?”

To most fanboys the world over the cool place to be anymore is the annual Comic-Con in San Diego. Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) are two such pilgrims making their trip to nerd Mecca from England. Besides the con they also plan to visit some of the sites where, rumor has it, alien life has landed in the past. They even find time to stop and recreate the classic scene from the “Star Trek” episode “Arena” where Kirk fights the Gorn (wow, why do I know that?). Along the way they meet some strange representatives of this planet…and one from somewhere else.

Packed from beginning to end with jokes and nods to other films that only a confessed nerd like me would recognize, “Paul” is a hit or miss comedy that makes the tragic mistake of trying to add romance to the menu. Both Pegg and Frost have worked great together in films like “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.” In “Paul,” which the duo also wrote, their chemistry is strong until they meet Ruth (Kristen Wiig), a socially repressed young woman who decides to accompany them on their journey. Having never cursed before she begins spewing profanities at the most inopportune times, which is funny. But when Graeme and Ruth try to kindle any sparks the film stops cold. Rogen is his usual dry self as the voice of “Paul.” Part of the running gag is his claims to being responsible for most fanboy pop culture, from advising Steven Spielberg to creating “The X-files.” Spielberg is obviously revered by Pegg and Frost, as I counted no less than a half dozen nods to the director and his films, running the gambit from “Duel” to “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” There’s even a nice nod to “Jaws” that I caught.

Pegg and Frost have nailed the persona of the modern fanboy, from their dated T-shirts to their speaking Klingon to each other when they find themselves in danger. Of course the in joke not noted is that Pegg plays Scotty in the new series of “Star Trek” films. His hair longer than normal, Pegg looks as if he could be the bastard child of David Spade and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Mitchell on “Modern Family”). The supporting cast is especially strong, including Jason Bateman, Bill Hader and Joe Lo Trulio. There are some other nice cameos but I don’t want to be a spoiler. Let’s just say that if you have any love for science fiction and fantasy films from the past 40 years you’ll certainly enjoy the film.

This Week's Movie Review of "Paul" is ©2011 by Mike Smith. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.

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