Monday, March 21, 2011

I Almost Bury Paul

Should you go and see Paul? Yeah. I guess. Unless you have something better to do. I mean, it's all right. It's nothing special but it's decent. Is the praise faint enough?

Paul just barely rates a good review from me. If I used a four star system like everyone else does, this would probably get two and a half stars. It started off as a decent movie about two British nerds named Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost) who decide the best way to follow up their visit to Comic-Con would be to visit the nation's most notorious UFO sites. They witness a car accident and, as luck would have it, the passenger is a fugitive alien (a CGI creation voiced by Seth Rogen) named Paul. Paul's been on Earth since he crashed in Wyoming in 1947 (the Roswell crash was faked to distract people from this real crash) and he's been held by the government ever since. They take Paul on as a passenger despite the fact that Clive faints at the sight of him and then tries to strangle him when he wakes up. A cooly competent government agent named Zoil (the coolly competent Jason Bateman) is dispatched to either capture or kill Paul. He's forced by his superior (a surprise big name actor whose voice I recognized but I'll let it come as a surprise to you) to team up with two less-than-coolly competent agents (Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio). Up till this point, it's a better-than-average comedy. Paul is the smart, irreverent slacker that Seth Rogen is so good at playing and that matches well with Pegg and Frost's socially awkward nerds to create some funny situations. Unfortunately, it all falls apart when Kristen Wiig shows up.

She plays Ruth Buggs, a dim witted Fundamentalist Christian whose belief in Biblical Creationism is threatened by Paul's existence. In fact, she quickly abandons that belief as well as the deeply held religious views that have defined her entire existence and just starts awkwardly cursing for the rest of the movie since she now figures that, if one part of her ideology is wrong, there must be no God at all. I knew this character was coming because conservative movie site Big Hollywood has been bitching about it for weeks. For once, I agree with them that she ruins the movie. Oh, not because of any beliefs she might offend. I don't like her because she's not funny. She's two dimensional and, like many of Wiig's SNL characters, a one joke wonder. She spends most of the movie doing the same thing over and over, that being letting out sudden curse words and the character just sucks the air out of what was a very pleasant movie. Side note: John Carroll Lynch plays her crazy Fundamentalist father in the movie. Lynch is only 10 years older than Kristen Wiig meaning he clearly didn't embrace his religious beliefs until he had spent some years as a pre-teen sex machine.

So, all in all, Paul if fairly funny and still manages to create some comedy after Ruth Buggs shows up but they don't know how close they came to getting a bad review. Or maybe they do and just don't care. They have my ticket money, after all, and there's no way I can get it back. They're probably doing filthy things with it right now. Either way, thanks for the movie's good parts. They made it into something funnier than most of Hollywood's lame attempts at comedy.

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