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Paul

A raunchy alien makes men out of two nerds

Graeme (Simon Pegg: The Chronicles of Narnia) and Clive (Nick Frost: Pirate Radio) are two nerds living the dream. The Brits combine their savings for a trip of a lifetime to California’s Comic Con. Spending money on essentials — a Gorn mask and signed copies of Jeffrey Shadowchild’s (Jeffrey Tambor) latest sci-fi tome — the pair is looking forward to an RV trip to see the great American sights.
    If you don’t speak nerd, that means the pair is planning to see all of the American sites that hold extra terrestrial significance. Apparently aliens don’t visit England too often.
    As the duo trek through the southwest, they pause to take pictures at the black mailbox and re-enact the battle between the Gorn and James T. Kirk. It’s a nerdy dream until they try to help a car crash victim.
    Instead of finding a stranded motorist, they find Paul (voice of Seth Rogen: The Green Hornet), a foul-mouthed smoking alien.
    When Paul crashed in the 1950s, he thought the government was putting him up as a guest. So he noshed on their food, smoked government-grade weed and chatted with agents about his people. Once agents learned all they could from Paul, he was to turn into a dissection project.
    Unsurprisingly, Paul decided to end his stay with the men in black. So he meets the geeks and beats feet for his crash site in Wyoming.
    Along the way, the motley crew picks up Ruth (Kristen Wiig: All Good Things), a fundamentalist Christian who sees the light and the truth in evolution when she meets Paul. That light also tells Ruth to rid herself of her shattered belief system, so she sets her sights on fornication and cursing.
    There’s only one small hitch: Federal agents with big guns and loads of resources are hot on their geeky tails. Will the Brits be able to outwit the feds and save their alien friend? Will Ruth find a life outside her faith? Will Paul be able to keep his shorts on for five minutes?
    Paul is a film for nerds by nerds. This isn’t a bad thing if you’re into sci-fi jokes, comic book references and bathroom humor. Paul is a crude higher being with a slacker attitude and an affinity for sarcastic pop-culture references.
    Essentially, he’s the leader of the nerds.
    As it turns out, Paul has been leading nerd culture for about 60 years, advising Steven Spielberg on ET, developing The X-Files and helping the government to steer America toward ET-friendly culture.
    What elevates Paul beyond alien genital humor and comic book references is the chemistry among the cast. On their first outing without frequent director Edgar Wright, Pegg and Frost display the same deep friendship that made Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead hits. Without Wright’s hand in the script, however, pacing is uneven, and the film doesn’t gain momentum until the travelers pick up Paul, 20 minutes in.
    The real surprises in the cast are Wiig and Rogen, who join the established comedy duo without taking away from the natural rhythm of the humor. Wiig is charming as a true believer turned non-believer who tries sin with bright-eyed optimism and cheer. When Rogen isn’t allowed to smirk and mug for the camera — because he’s replaced with a CGI alien — he delivers a great comedic performance, making us enjoy Paul’s wit and humor in spite of his rude attitude.
    In all, those who have Star Trek on Blu-Ray will be laughing hysterically throughout at inside jokes and references. Viewers with a passing knowledge of the final frontier will have to be satisfied with a deceptively sweet tale of a crass alien who just wants to phone home.

Good Sci-Fi Comedy • R • 104 mins.