Paul (2011): Glimpses of Greatness

I really wanted to love this film. I’ve been a fan of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost since Shaun of the Dead. I didn’t see them work together on the hysterically funny Spaced television show until after I’d seen their ZomRomCom.

I am also a huge fan of Seth Rogan. I also adore Sigourney Weaver. So what’s not to like about Paul?

Let me tell you.

I could really sum it up in one sentence. They tried too hard.

There you have it. The magical team of Pegg and Frost struck out. And since they co-wrote the film, it stands to reason that they have to take most of the blame. It could be that without Edgar Wright directing, they lose that spontaneity and effortless ease of their comic timing and delivery. Maybe Greg Mottola just didn’t get it.

Or it could be that the studios didn’t trust our lads to be able to deliver a hit vehicle on American shores. My daughter and I have our own theory, Pegg and Frost are a great comic duo. We think though, that they work best in English comedies.

Shaun of the Dead for example was brilliantly funny from frame one. Hot Fuzz wasn’t quite so fast out of the gate as Shaun, but still very funny. At first glance Paul film should have benefited from the lads presence in the film.

But it doesn’t

The beginning of the film showed a lot of promise. Two geeky guys from the UK come to the US to attend a Comic-Con. It’s a lifetime dream of the two friends, Graeme and Clive (Pegg and Frost respectively) are on the holiday of all holidays. Clive has written a science fiction book (graphic novel?) that Clive illustrated.

The two men attend the Comic-Con, meet their idol Adam Shadowchild (Jeffrey Tambor) and afterwards they decide to take a ‘UFO” road trip by way of a RV and a map. While they are on route to another tourist UFO hot-spot, a car passes them and spectacularly crashes right in front of their RV.

Shaken, Clive and Graeme get out and go to the burning car to look for survivors. Just as Clive starts to call 911, a voice from the darkness tells him not to use the phone. Graeme and Clive freeze as an alien wearing a pair of brown shorts and scandals walks out of the shadows. Clive passes out and falls backwards onto the desert floor.

The alien introduces himself as Paul and asks the guys to help him out. It seems that his other alien buddies are going to be picking him up and he needs to get there fast. Graeme agrees since Clive is still out for the count and they both carry Clive back to the RV.

Jason Bateman plays a National Security Agent who is trying to track Paul down. Kristen Wiig plays visually challenged Ruth Buggs. Sigourney Weaver plays a ‘baddie’ and Blythe Danner plays the little girl all grown up whose dog was mashed flat by Paul’s spacecraft years ago.

So the cast was great, the story should have been a barrel of laughs. The first twenty minutes was well paced and very funny then it slowed down and turned into a slight chuckle and smile film. The sparse hilarious moments were very sparse . The CG for the alien Paul was breathtaking and just brilliant. But that was not enough to save the film from its wishy-washy comedy.

The film does have glimpses of greatness. But glimpses are all they and there not consistent enough to make this film a real rib tickler. Part of the problem was the overly obvious scenes in the film that were clearly signposting how important that particular scene would be later in the film.

**SPOILER ALERT**                                                                                       **SPOILER ALERT**

The scene with the dead bird is a perfect example. The RV that the boys are driving hits a bird and kills it. They stop the RV and Paul goes over to the bird and, clapping his hands together like a very small Mr Miyagi, brings the bird back to life. Paul holds the bird gently in his hands while Clive and Graeme look on in amazement. Paul then shoves the live bird into his mouth and eats it. Clive and Graeme look shocked. “Well, ya didn’t think I was gonna eat a dead bird did ya?” Paul says after wiping his mouth and spitting out a feather. (This was one of those glimpses that the film could have used more of)

All the comic turns in the film were also signposted. It was like watching a ‘Comedy Films for Idiots Guide.’ Every gag was so laid out that by the time it got to the punch line, I was bored.

I’m not kidding when I say that I really wanted to love this film. I even watched it twice. The second time was roughly a year after I’d originally watched it. I saw it on the flight to the United States last year. As I was a bit distracted about my first visit in over eleven years to see my family, I decided that was why I didn’t find Paul hysterically funny.

Unfortunately a year didn’t help. Even watching it with undivided attention didn’t make the film any better.

My final verdict on Paul is…It’s a one bagger. Period. The film is amusing, but not downright funny (except occasionally)and as you won’t be belly laughing while you watch it you might as well have a huge Coke with that popcorn. Worth watching but, friends and neighbours, Shaun of the Dead, it isn’t.

Shaun of the Dead
Shaun of the Dead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Portents and Signs…

Grainy B&W image of supposed UFO, Passoria, Ne...
Grainy B&W image of supposed UFO, Passoria, New Jersey Edited version of Image:PurportedUFO NewJersey 1952 07 31.gif. By Bach01. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There is a lot of strange things going on at the moment. I had “googled” a few things for my last blog, mostly to do with UFO’s and the loud “humming” noises reported around the world. While doing that I then remembered the phenomenon of birds falling out of the sky…dead. This led me to articles about dead fish.
Of course if you look at both of these occurances, you will find references to the weather.Just last week the thriving metropolis of the Dallas/Fort Worth area had seven or eight tornadoes go ripping though their suburban streets. I was thunderstruck (pun not intended).Seven or eight! When I was growing up, you might just get two, but not at the same time, or one after the other. It almost seems like some sort of “following the leader” game that the weather has decided to play.
When I first moved to the United Kingdom in 1980, I was informed, with wry amusement, that England “doesn’t have tornadoes old bean.” That information was not totally correct, but pretty close. There were the occasional ‘twisters’ but they were small and caused little damage. Now it seems, we have several a year. Still not doing too much in the way of damage, a roof here and a tree there, with the odd wall blown down. But still much more than the odd one that occurred when I first moved here
.I first became aware of the “dead birds” in 2011. That was also the year that “thousands” of dead fish were discovered in an Arkansas river. Now I think about it, Arkansas also had their share of dead blackbirds. If you google the phrases ‘dead birds’ and ‘dead fish’ you will find a lot of reports of same all over the USA. More importantly, it also happened again this year in Arkansas. Dead birds fell out of the sky as recently as February this year. Just what the hell is going on?

I wrote about the multiple UFO sightings last year, and by multiple I mean more than one ‘bright light’ or ‘flying object’ at each separate sighting. Some of which occurred in broad daylight and witnessed by thousands of people. I also wrote about this new phenomenon, the “loud humming” noise that is being reported all over the world.

Is someone or something trying to tell us something?

My daughter and I watched the film Signs again last night. It is a  permanent favourite in our house. M. Night Shyamalan’s brilliant tale of a Reverend coming to grips with his wife’s death and his subsequent loss of faith. I only mention the plot because it also revolved around signs or portents if you prefer. The final message of the film is thatnothing happens by chance. We are given clear signs of what is going to happen. Unfortunately we don’t always recognise the significance of these when we are shown them or even realise that we are being given a “heads-up”

Cover of "Signs [Blu-ray]"
Cover of Signs [Blu-ray]
After we had watched the film, I got to thinking about all the strange things that are going on in the world right now. I started surfing the net and found references to HARP, that stands for High Altitude Research Program. In a nut shell, the articles I read indicated that this program can change the weather. It also intimated that they are indeed using the program for just that.
Now I don’t know, I am not a rocket scientist – hell, I am not even scientifically minded – but if I was running that program, I would start to get a little worried about all the strange things that are happening world wide right now.I know there are a lot of people who will see these happenings as religious portents that have been written about in the Bible.

I don’t know whether they are right or wrong, and I am not part of the HARP program, but, my “spidey-sense” is tingling and I think something life-changing might just be around the corner. The only problem is this, I don’t know if I should be excited or scared.