Who's In It: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman, Jane Lynch, Joe Lo Truglio, Bill Hader, Sigourney Weaver and the voice of Seth Rogen
The Basics: Two British comic book nerds, high on life, their deep friendship and geek-focused marketing after attending the San Diego Comic-Con, take an RV and hit the open American road in search of alien-adjacent tourist destinations like Area 51 and Roswell, N.M. Their enthusiasm for space travel and meeting big-headed spacemen takes a shock to the system when they stumble upon a real (wise-cracking, joke-spouting) alien named Paul who crashed to Earth in the 1940s and has been under government watch ever since (a covert operation notably run by Sigourney Weaver, whose entire job here is to play Ripley as a cranky bureaucrat). Together--along with some help from born-again trailer park resident Kristen Wiig--they keep one step ahead of the men in black in an effort to help Paul get back to the Mothership.
What's The Deal: This movie is funny. I want to make that clear. There are more than enough laughs to keep you fairly happy. But... something's wrong. I'm a fan of Frost and Pegg. A big fan. And something feels unformed here. Underdone. Awkward. From any other guys except the ones who brought their A-game with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, this would be a perfectly satisfactory comedy. But there are moments of dead air, nerd-based pop culture jokes that have been told too many times before to feel fresh or surprising, lowest common denominator Christian bashing that's so uninspired it almost makes you feel like defending people who don't believe in evolution, and a fish-out-of-water quality that makes you wish the comedy duo would keep working within the confines of the U.K., a place they understand in the same measure that they seem not to understand the U.S. I'm still a fan. I'll jump at the chance to see what they do next. But this one needed more time in the oven.
Why It's Worth Seeing Anyway: Bill Hader, SNL's current coolest cast member, is underused from start to finish but he gets a laugh every time he's on screen. And Wiig takes the thankless "girl" part, a role that's even more thanklessly written as a stale Jesus-freak caricature, and turns it on its head when, through a mind-meld with Paul, she's transformed into a science savant with a wickedly funny non-gift for stringing together incongruous profanities. I'd provide examples but she's the reason it's rated "R."
Why It Cries Out For A Future DVD Commentary: For someone to explain the true nature of Frost and Pegg's on-screen relationship. Prior to this movie, the level of ultra-affection these two have been shown feeling for one another couldn't reasonably be called gay (but the idiot term "bromance" fit pretty well). Yet in this movie there is a genuine gay jealousy subplot going on. Characters actually call out Frost and ask him if he's in love with Pegg. He denies it and then still keeps behaving like a petulant boyfriend. Later, other characters question him about it. More denial. And finally the movie just drops the whole thing like it never happened. Baffling.