UK release poster
|Directed by||Greg Mottola|
|Music by||David Arnold|
|Edited by||Chris Dickens|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
Paul is a 2011 British-American comic science fiction road film directed by Greg Mottola and written by and starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, with Seth Rogen as the voice of the title character. The film is about two British science fiction fans who meet an extraterrestrial being with a sarcastic manner and an appetite for alcohol and cigarettes. They help the alien to escape the secret service agents who are pursuing him, so that he can return to his home planet.
The film contains numerous references to other science fiction films, especially those of Steven Spielberg, as well as to general science fiction fandom. (One of the many taglines was: "Who's up for a close encounter?") Critical reaction to the film was generally positive.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (June 2014)|
Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Nick Frost) are British comic book enthusiasts and best friends who travel to the United States to attend the annual San Diego Comic-Con International, and to take a road trip to visit the sites of UFO sightings. They meet two rednecks at a restaurant who torment Graeme. As they leave, they accidentally hit the rednecks' truck with their vehicle. Later that night, they see lights behind them. They assume that the rednecks are following them, but it's a car that passes them and then crashes. Investigating the damaged car, they discover a grey alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), who is in desperate need of help. Despite his shock, Graeme agrees to give Paul a ride. Clive faints at the sight of Paul, and later is not pleased with Graeme's decision.
United States Secret Service Agent Zoil arrives at the car crash site and informs his unseen female superior, "the Big Guy", that he is closing in on Paul. She sends two inept rookies, Haggard and O'Reilly, to assist Zoil.
Graeme, Clive and Paul camp at an RV park run by Christian fundamentalists Ruth Buggs and her father, Moses. Around their camp grill, Paul reveals that during his captivity he had been advising the government in scientific and sociological matters. Paul outlived his usefulness and his captors planned to surgically harvest his stem cells to harness his invisibility and healing powers. With the help of a "friend" inside Area 51, Paul sent an SOS to his home planet and waited for rescue.
The next morning, Paul intentionally reveals himself to Ruth during a theological argument, and Graeme and Clive are forced to kidnap her. Moses, believing Paul to be a demon, grabs his shotgun and chases them in his truck. Paul shatters Ruth's faith by sharing his knowledge of the universe via a telepathic link. Ruth overcomes her horror and becomes eager to commit all the sins she was raised to abhor. She does not trust Paul at first, until he heals her blind eye.
The fugitives stop at a bar and Ruth tries to call Moses, but Zoil intercepts the call and she is accosted by the rednecks. Escaping, she warns Graeme and Clive, but the rednecks catch them and a fight starts. Moses arrives and sees Ruth's healed eye. Too stunned to react, he allows the group to escape in their rented RV. The rednecks close in, but Paul appears outside the RV and the astonished rednecks drive away. The next day, the fugitives reach a busy small town where it becomes difficult to keep Paul hidden. Paul and Clive visit a comic book store, where Paul is forced to pose as a statue to avoid detection.
Ruth is questioned by Agent Zoil, but claims to know nothing about "a one-eyed girl" or "two British nerds". Released, she and Graeme retrieve Clive and Paul, who narrowly escape O'Reilly. Frustrated, Zoil orders Haggard and O'Reilly to return to base, but they insist on catching the alien themselves. Moses is also still in pursuit.
Paul reveals his intention meet Tara Walton, a girl who saved his life after his initial crash landing in 1947, now an old woman. Walton's dog, Paul, was killed in the crash, and the alien took the dog's name as his own. Having spent her life as an object of ridicule for her belief in Paul, Tara is grateful to see him alive. As she makes tea for her visitors, Haggard, O'Reilly and Zoil surround the house. The fugitives flee, but O'Reilly shoots at them, igniting gas from Tara's stove and destroying her house. O'Reilly is apparently killed in the explosion. Zoil pursues, but Haggard runs Moses off the road and catches up to the RV. Due to an error in judgement, Haggard drives off a cliff and is killed. Zoil reassures the Big Guy that he will have Paul within the hour, but she is tired of waiting and informs Zoil that she has ordered a "military response".
Paul, Graeme, Clive, Ruth and Tara arrive at Devils Tower National Monument, where they set off fireworks as a signal to any watching aliens. Orange lights glow over the surrounding trees, suggesting the arrival of Paul's rescue ship. However, it's the Big Guy arriving by Army helicopter. As her troops prepare to shoot Paul, Zoil arrives and reveals that he has been on Paul's side all along. Zoil disarms the soldiers, but is shot in the shoulder by the Big Guy. The Big Guy threatens Ruth, but Tara subdues her. Moses appears and attempts to shoot Paul, but Graeme intervenes and is shot. Paul heals him and then collapses, but quickly recovers; Moses exclaims that this is a miracle from God. The Big Guy regains consciousness but is crushed to death by the alien ship as it lands. Paul invites Tara to come with him. He bids farewell to his new friends, and hopes to see them again.
Two years later, Graeme, Clive, Ruth, and O'Reilly (who survived the explosion) are at another Comic-Con where Graeme and Clive are promoting Paul, their best-selling "novel".
- Simon Pegg as Graeme Willy
- Nick Frost as Clive Gollings
- Seth Rogen as Paul (voice)
- Jason Bateman as Special Agent Lorenzo Zoil. Bateman described his character as an "exaggerated nasty guy". Bateman also stated that he based Zoil on Yaphet Kotto in Midnight Run and Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive.
- Kristen Wiig as Ruth Buggs
- Bill Hader as Agent Haggard
- Blythe Danner as Tara Walton
- Joe Lo Truglio as Agent O'Reilly
- John Carroll Lynch as Moses Buggs, Ruth's father
- Jane Lynch as Pat Stevens
- David Koechner as Gus, a hillbilly whom Graeme and Clive first encounter in a Nevada gas station.
- Jesse Plemons as Jake, Gus's friend.
- Sigourney Weaver as "The Big Guy". In an interview with Graham Norton, Weaver stated: "It's a love letter to sci-fi fans. I jumped at the chance to be in it. To find a comedy that also pays homage to sci-fi is a dream come true."
- Syd Masters as himself, singing cowboy on stage
- Jeffrey Tambor as Adam Shadowchild, a famous science fiction writer
In an interview for the DVD release of Paul, Pegg and Frost said they made the film to demonstrate their love for Steven Spielberg's films Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, as well as their favorite science fiction films. After they mentioned the project to Spielberg, he suggested he might make a cameo appearance, and a scene was added to include him as a voice on a speakerphone in 1980 discussing ideas with Paul for his soon to become box office hit E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. According to Robert Kirkman, he, along with Invincible co-creator Cory Walker and current Invincible artist Ryan Ottley, had a cameo in the film as The Big Guy's henchmen.
To help with the script, Pegg and Frost went on their own road trip across America and used ideas from it to add to the script.
According to Mottola, the film was given the green-light shortly before the late-2000s recession; if it had been delayed, "they probably wouldn’t have made the movie." The budget for the film was around $40 million.
Principal photography, including 50 days in the New Mexico desert, wrapped on 9 September 2009, with additional scenes filmed in July 2010 at the Albuquerque Convention Center, which was designed to look like the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con.
During filming, Joe Lo Truglio was a stand-in for the character Paul, the only character who was created by CGI. Seth Rogen did some motion capture in pre-production and voice work during post-production.
As of June 2013, the film has received generally positive reviews. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 71% approval rating with an average rating of 6.3/10 based on 196 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "It doesn't measure up to Pegg and Frost's best work, but Paul is an amiably entertaining -- albeit uneven -- road trip comedy with an intergalactic twist."
Empire rated the film "excellent" (four stars out of five) stating, "Broader and more accessible than either Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, Paul is pure Pegg and Frost – clever, cheeky and very, very funny. You'll never look at E.T. in the same way again." SFX also gives the film four stars out of five, saying "the film veers dangerously close to alienating (no pun intended) all but its geek core audience, [though] the more obvious concessions to a mainstream crowd [are] never enough to derail the film's laugh-a-minute ride"; SFX also calls it a "triumph of visual effects, convincing characterisation and bad taste humour."
Peter Bradshaw gave the film two stars out of five and called it a "goofy, amiable piece of silliness" exhibiting "self-indulgence" and possessing a "distinct shortage of real gags". On the same scale Nigel Andrews gave the film only one star, calling it a "faltering extraterrestrial knockabout". The Independent grades the film two stars out of five, saying "Pegg is likeable as usual, Frost more doltish than usual, and Kristen Wiig an appealing convert from Bible thumper to ladette", and notes that "from time to time, clever ideas rear their heads – like the idea that 'Paul' has been the brains behind all science fiction and UFO initiatives for the last 30 years, including Close Encounters and The X-Files – but they soon return to the film's default setting of laddish japes and a conviction that the word 'cocksucker' will always get a laugh." Common Sense Media gave the film three stars and an iffy rating for ages 16–17. Saying "Cheerfully dumb sci-fi comedy has sex, drug humor."
IGN provided Paul with three reviews. The first gave the film three stars, stating, "Simon Pegg and Nick Frost send up everything from Star Wars to E.T. in this sci-fi comedy... As with Pegg and Frost's previous films together, it's derivative stuff, the plot similar to countless sci-fi flicks of the past; paying homage to the good and gently ribbing the bad." Less excited was their review for the British Blu-ray version, which said, "But unlike previous Pegg and Frost collaborations – Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz – Paul does not generously reward repeat viewing. That's not to say it's a bad film at all; it has a strong central premise, which carries much of the film, loveable central characters, the odd neat idea (it turns out that Paul inspired all major works of SF post-1950, from Close Encounters to The X-Files, and has a direct line to Steven Spielberg), and a couple of genuine laughs, but it never feels more than a rough sketch of a bigger, much funnier movie." In a second review for the American Blu-ray version, IGN compared the movie with Galaxy Quest and wrote that it is "richly layered with clever homage, a refreshingly original alien hero, delightfully entertaining characters and great performances from our leads and their supporting players."
Upon its U.S. release, Roger Ebert gave Paul a mixed review of two and a half stars out of four, saying it's a "movie that teeters on the edge of being really pretty good and loses its way. I'm not sure quite what goes wrong, but you can see that it might have gone right." According to Manohla Dargis, "As genial, foolish and demographically engineered as it sounds (hailing all fan boys and girls), Paul is at once a buddy flick and a classic American road movie of self- (and other) discovery, interspersed with buckets of expletives and some startling (especially for a big-studio release) pokes at Christian fundamentalism....The movie has its attractions, notably Mr. Pegg and Mr. Frost (and of course Mr. Bateman), whose ductile, (noncomputer) animated and open faces were made for comedy....Paul proves the weak link. One problem is that Mr. Rogen, however comically inclined, has become overexposed, and there’s just something too familiar and predictable about this voice coming out of that body. Yet while Paul seems great conceptually, he’s not particularly interesting or surprising, despite a funny recap of what he’s been doing on his time on Earth. With his vibe and vocabulary, shorts and weed, juvenilia and sentimentality, Paul turns out to be not much different from a lot of guys who have wreaked comedy havoc on American screens lately, even if this one only wants to beam up, not knock up."
The DVD release features an audio commentary with director Greg Mottola, stars Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Bill Hader, and producer Nira Park; 2 featurettes; "Simon's Silly Faces"; photo galleries; storyboards and posters; and a blooper reel. The US Blu-ray release features all the DVD supplements with nine more featurettes and a digital copy.
Awards and nominations
|2011||National Movie Award||Best Comedy||Won|
|2012||Annie Award||Character Animation in a Live Action Production||Michael Hull
|2012||Visual Effects Society Award||Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture||Nominated|
All songs written and composed by David Arnold, except as noted.
|1.||"Paul Opening Title"||David Arnold||1:56|
|2.||"Another Girl, Another Planet" (from The Only Ones, 1978)||Peter Perrett||The Only Ones||3:00|
|3.||"Road Trip Number 1"||David Arnold||0:57|
|4.||"Just the Two of Us"||Withers, Ralph MacDonald, William Salter||Bill Withers and Grover Washington, Jr.||3:57|
|6.||"Road Trip Number 2"||David Arnold||1:34|
|7.||"Flying Saucers Rock 'N' Roll" (single, 1957)||Harold Ray Scott||Billy Lee Riley||2:02|
|8.||"Window Shopping"||David Arnold||0:51|
|9.||"Hello It's Me" (from Something/Anything?, 1972)||Rundgren||Todd Rundgren||4:20|
|10.||"End of the Road Trip"||David Arnold||1:38|
|11.||"Dancing in the Moonlight" (from Dancing In The Moonlight, 1973)||Sherman Kelly||King Harvest||2:56|
|12.||"Campfire Confession"||David Arnold||1:24|
|13.||"Got to Give It Up" (from Live at the London Palladium, 1977)||Gaye||Marvin Gaye||6:01|
|14.||"A Little Talk with Paul"||David Arnold||1:21|
|15.||"I Chase the Devil" (from War Ina Babylon, 1976)||Lee Perry, Romeo||Max Romeo||3:22|
|17.||"Cantina Band"||John Williams||Syd Masters & The Swing Riders||3:42|
|18.||"You Gotta Try"||David Arnold||2:51|
|19.||"1st Contact"||David Arnold||1:17|
|20.||"Planet Claire" (from The B-52's, 1979)||Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland||The B-52's||4:33|
|21.||"Goodbye (It's a Little Awkward)"||David Arnold||4:42|
|22.||"All Over the World" (from Xanadu, 1980)||Jeff Lynne||Electric Light Orchestra||4:05|
Simon Pegg has stated that he would like to film a sequel to Paul called Pauls. However, the time and expense it would take means it is unlikely to happen until costs go down. in June 2014, Universal Pictures officially announced on their website that Paul sequel is in the process, but it's still unknown that Simon Pegg & Nick Frost would reprise their role due to scheduling conflicts with filming on their new movie. According to Universal Pictures, Filming will begin in February 2015 and it's schedule to released in Summer 2016, it's still currently unknown who will be the main cast on the sequel.
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- Simon Pegg Says Paul Sequel Is Unlikely
- Official website
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