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Paul (R / unrated)
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This came out in 2011, but I didn't see it until 2020. (The DVD has both theatrical and unrated versions; I watched the theatrical one.) It was written by, and stars, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, whom I've been aware of working together for several years before this came out, and I've long wanted to see some of their acting collaborations (most importantly the Cornetto trilogy), but I guess this is actually the first thing I've seen them in together. So I'll understand if fans of their earlier work prefer that to this, but for now, I've nothing really to compare it to. All I can say is that I found it pretty amusing, and it serves to make me even more eager to see some of their other collaborations.

Anyway, in this movie, they play best friends Graeme Willy (Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Frost), who are both fans of comic books and science fiction. They've come from Britain to America for the first time ever to attend San Diego's Comic-Con, as the first stop on a road trip to visit various sites associated with UFOs. They're excited to meet a writer named Adam Shadowchild (Jeffrey Tambor), though in a running gag, no one they mention him to has ever heard of him. And they meet a waitress named Pat Stevens (Jane Lynch), who is friendly enough, but doesn't seem to know anything about the stuff they're interested in. They also run afoul of a couple of guys... who aren't really important to the movie, but after they leave the diner, they think they're being pursued by those guys. They actually weren't, but the car they thought was chasing them passes them, and then flips off the road. Graeme and Clive go to see if anyone needs help, and that's when they meet a CGI alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen). Actually, the opening scene of them movie was set in the past, when the alien's ship crashed on Earth, and he took on the name "Paul" as, I suppose, a sort of tribute to a little girl's pet dog, Paul, who was accidentally killed in the crash. Since then (for 60 years or so), he's been in the custody of a top secret federal agency, but now he's on the run from them. So, he begins traveling with Graeme and Clive, so they can take him to a spot where he's arranged a rendezvous with his own people, to return him to his home planet.

They're pursued by an FBI agent named Lorenzo Zoil (Jason Bateman), who knows the truth about Paul being an alien, as well as two rookie agents, Haggard (Bill Hader) and O'Reilly (Joe Lo Truglio), who don't have any idea what their mission is really about... but they begin to piece it together. Meanwhile, Paul, Graeme, and Clive spend the night at an RV park run by a Christian fundamentalist (I mean, absolutely full-on fundamentalist), Moses Buggs (John Carroll Lynch) and his daughter, Ruth (Kristen Wiig). Through a very contrived plot device that I won't get into, Ruth ends up traveling with them, initially against her will. And she's incapable of believing Paul is an alien, because her incredibly strict upbringing has made her believe Earth is the only planet on which God created intelligent life. But Paul does a sort of mind-meld that lets her see the truth about human history or whatever, which causes her not only to accept that he's an alien, but also to basically lose all her inhibitions. (I suppose she needs to make up for an entire lifetime of not saying or doing things she now sees there was no real reason not to do.) Anyway, from that point on, she becomes a willing ally of Paul and the others, and it appears possible that a relationship could develop between her and Graeme. Also, before going to the rendezvous point, Paul decides to make a stopover to see a woman named Tara Walton (Blythe Danner), who was the little girl from the opening scene of the movie.

I don't want to say much of anything else about the plot, except that we do eventually meet Zoil's boss, referred to as "the Big Guy" (Sigourney Weaver). And of course, there is ultimately a happy ending for Paul. Other than that, I suppose I can say that there were maybe some minor things about the movie that I wish would have been done differently (or not at all), but on the whole I found the movie a lot more enjoyable than I really expected to. And I liked Paul himself more than I expected to. I was expecting a lot of crude, "edgy" humor, which isn't normally my cup of tea. And there was some of that, but for the most part I just thought Paul seemed, you know, normal. Obviously he's had a lot of time to become steeped in Earth culture, for both good and ill. So basically... he's just kind of chill. (At this point, I still haven't see a lot of Seth Rogen's movies, but I feel fairly confident in saying Paul is, aside from being an alien, basically every Seth Rogen character. So your tolerance for this movie is likely going to depend on how you feel about Rogen.) But there are also an awful lot of references to various elements of geek culture, which is something I always enjoy.


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