Friday, March 18, 2011

Box Office Review - Paul

Last year the term “Nerd Pandering” started being thrown around, and there was good reason. So called nerd culture has been thrust into the main stream, and this is in no way a good thing. No longer are films being made to sustain future nerds, films are being made that celebrate nerd culture by jamming as many nerdy things into one movie as possible. If a film contains in jokes about comics or video games, the internet will be a buzz, but the box office will generally be soft. I have a feeling that Paul will be lumped in with the nerd pandering films, and if it is, that will be a shame. Yes the film is about two science fiction geeks, and yes there are many nerdy jokes, but these jokes never feel forced. Paul is a lighthearted, well written, and well executed film that wears its nerdness on its sleeve, instead of shoving it down its audiences throats (that is always messy).

Paul is a story about two British friends named Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg) and writer Clive Gollings (Nick Frost) who travel to nerd mecca, the San Francisco Comic Con. After attending the convention they set out in an RV on a tour of alien hot spots. It is on this journey that they meet Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) a foulmouthed alien who is more comfortable in the world than either Brit. Of course no alien comes without pursuing government agents, who are played by Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, and Joe Lo Truglio. With the agents in hot pursuit, Willy and Gollings assist Paul in in evading them. In the process of doing this, they meet Ruth Buggs (Kristin Wiig) a trailer park girl with a serious optical problem. She winds up accompanying them on their fantastic voyage and with this crew assembled they attempt to get Paul home.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have worked together on multiple projects, and together (as well as apart) they are hilarious. In both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Pegg plays the straight man. In a demonstration of how talented they both are, they switch duties and it is Frost who plays the straight man. The film is built around their relationship, and there could be no better foundation. The male relationship thing has been done to death, but Frost and Pegg do it better than anybody and they give it a fresh feel. Having Seth Rogen voice Paul is a stroke of genius. The character is likeable, and hilarious and this is all because of Rogen. Paul is up there with Golum as one of the most memorable digital characters. I can't forget to mention Kristin Wigg as she is very funny, and completes the group of RV misfits.

Going into Paul, I had an idea as to what to expect. There aren't very many surprises in the film, but I didn't expect, or even need any. Paul is a film that will age extremely well, and I can see it being a film that I will watch often. It is nice to have a film about nerds that doesn't pander to its audience. In the current state of things, this is a rarity.

A Gold Banana

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