Who's In It: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Justin Bateman, Joe Lo Truglio, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Jeffrey Tambor, Jane Lynch, Sigourney Weaver
The Basics: Imagine that E.T. swore a lot and the bad guys coming after him were incompetent, reckless, and loved pictures of women with 3 boobs. Then instead of a cute bunch of kids, there were 2 nerdy Brits and that funny lady from Saturday Night Live. And a motorhome instead of a suburban house. There you have it, that's the movie.
What's The Deal: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have been raising the bar in comedy through writing or acting (or both) since 1999 with the series Spaced. Then, a magical thing happened and they made Shaun of the Dead together. I consider this to be a milestone in film, since it took the two tired genres of comedy and zombie flicks and injected them with new life. Paul is a welcome addition to their trove of limey goodness, since there are plenty of laughs, lots of nerd references, and a relatively engaging chase story. It's not on par with the aforementioned projects, or even Hot Fuzz, but it still gets the job done. It's not the comedy of the year, but it counts as a fun night out at the movies.
Like A Great Sports Bra: There is plenty of support in this film to make it lots of fun. Even though most of the cast appears for mere moments, they really make it count. Jane Lynch plays a waitress with an amazing head of teased blonde hair. Jeffrey Tambor shows up as Adam Shadowchild, a fake Comic-Con legend, whose arrogance rolls off his Indiana Jones hat like the stench from Jabba the Hut's skin folds. Jason Bateman is perfect as the slick, calculating FBI agent, and Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio are engaging as his bungling underlings with a thing for comic books. David Koechner shows up as a rubbery lipped aggressive redneck, and John Carroll Lynch is great wielding a shotgun. Each character just adds a modicum of wackiness but it's not beaten into the ground. They do their thing, get scared of Paul, and leave somehow. On to the next gag.
Nerd Catnip: The mark of good writing is present here, since the movie is funny on its own, but also works on that post-modern level. If you're a nerd that knows the song that is playing in the Star Wars cantina, you'll be delighted to see it make an appearance. There are ironic T-shirts, Close Encounters jokes, and one liners that you’ll miss if you’re sitting with a raucous audience.
The Eyes Have It: Originally I thought Seth Rogen was a weird choice for the voice of an alien, but he really does a nice job here. Somehow that rich, stonery growl of his fits into Paul’s body very well, and the little alien becomes just as likable as iconic little green guys before him. It definitely helped that animators have really been paying attention to eyes lately—staring into little Paul’s vast irises was like seeing the limpid pools in the Milky Way of his soul.