Paul Movie Review: Space Cadets Galore

It may be a whole lot easier to run into aliens of the homegrown variety on Planet Earth than anywhere else in the universe these days, and that’s exactly the point of the intergalactic grossout road movie, Paul. With a steady stream of irreverent menace on his mind, director Greg Motola (Superbad, Arrested Development) subverts the sci-fi genre, reimagined as an alien voyage into the extreme nuttiness of the Middle America.

Seth Rogen, or rather his digital space creature persona in question, is Paul, an interplanetary voyager who’s been locked up for some time by the US military in Nevada, as a useful specimen to be harvested for his comparatively less unhinged brain matter than the unstable variety possessed by the human race. When sensing he may no longer be of interest to his captors and an experiment about to be terminated, Paul escapes by hitching a ride in an RV with two unsuspecting human alien loons on tourist visas from the UK, Willy (Simon Pegg) and Gollings (Nick Frost).

The geeky best friends, fresh from doing Comic-Con, are cruising around the Nevada wilderness seriously in search of UFO hotspots. And this comedian high IQ alien on board may be the least of their current traumatic experiences. Which include crazed locals counting ferocious rednecks mocking their manhood, hotheaded when not homicidal espionage agents in pursuit (Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Jo Lo Truglio, and a decidedly dressed to kill Sigourney Weaver), and a gun-toting trailer park red state evangelist on the hunt for suspect ‘agents of Satan.’ Along with being mistaken for horny honeymooners when holed up in a local hotel and parading around in matching bathrobes.

Also accidentally joining the jittery man-children Brits along the way when napping in their truck, is one-eyed Ruth Buggs (Kristen Wiig), the abused daughter of the aforementioned Satan stalker. And in a radically spaced out, though occasionally monotonous tale, where Paul seems to be the only sensible fugitive on board, in a sea of mutually terrifying earthlings.

Paul: I have met the enemy, and they favor Jesus gunning for Darwin t-shirts.

Universal Pictures

Rated R

3 stars