The two best things "Paul" has going for it is the cast and characters. Greg Mottola's fourth feature film has an absolutely incredible cast. A cast I would call star studded, even though the majority of the cast is not what most would call Hollywood's elite. I'm not just talking about Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who are as heavenly as ice cream on a hot summer afternoon, but all of the various cast the fills in the holes throughout the comedy adventure. Actors like Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Joe Lo Truglio, Kristen Wiig, Jeffery Tambor, Blythe Danner, David Koechner, Jane Lynch and Sigourney Weaver. Seriously this entire cast rocks.
"Paul" is a pretty cut and dry adventure but the characters we are introduced to along the way are what give it all its heart. The film opens with just Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost), two best pals who have always wanted to do a USA road trip to see popular science fiction phenomenon. While on their road trip, around every corner we meet new characters that help make "Paul" engaging, laugh-out-loud hysterical and connectible. Not only do we meet likable characters along the way, the relationships that are developed are quite enjoyable. These relationships are not just a minor aspects to the story either, there are a number of cross-connectional relationships and they all are developed effectively.
The one character that matters the most in 'Paul' is Paul. If the audience doesn't connect with the alien, the entire film goes for fodder. Going into the movie I was pretty nervous this would be what turned me off. I am not a big fan of Seth Rogen, who voices the alien on the run. Rogen remains grating. Paul is an obnoxious, foul mouthed wise-ass and Rogen brings that particular gargled voice and laugh that sounds like a Yugo trying to start. Thankfully the script penned by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost does a brilliant job of making Paul inviting despite his less admirable qualities. The animation team deserve a ton of praise for the work done on Paul. The alien does not look cartoony but in fact lifelike. The biggest factor in making Paul look real is his eyes. The animation on his eyes is fantastic. Much like a human eye, his eyes are full of depth and sincerity. Another thing that I believe helped me get past his crude demeanor.
Speaking of crude, "Paul" is rated R for one reason and one reason only, cursing. The film is overloaded with foul language. Oddly, none of the adult language is offensive. One reason this may be is the hilarious way cussing is used. Early on in the film, Graeme and Clive meet Ruth played by Kristen Wiig. Ruth is a religious freak, so much so she sports a t-shirt that illustrates Jesus blowing Darwin's head off with a tagline of "Evolve This!" Once Ruth meets Paul and learns a thing or two from him, she begins using curse words on a regular basis, however her way of cussing is a riot. She combines words that most would never think of and these pairings are just lunacy. It probably doesn't hurt that Wiig is Ruth. The comedian has yet to have a performance/character that hasn't provided more than a few laughs.
Being a film about two fanboys you can expect a ton of geek/comic-book/scifi references and there are. Movies like "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "E.T.," "Star Trek" and "Aliens" are peddled often. None of these references ever seem overbearing either. I think non-scifi fans as well as hardcore scifi fans will enjoy what references they catch as they speed by. A real nice treat also comes in the form of a voice appearance from none other than Steven Spielberg himself. I won't spoil exactly how he is used, but it is fairly ingenious and will certainly put a smile on Spielberg fans face's.
Overall I really enjoyed "Paul." It is a movie that I will purchase and enjoy for years to come. It is a simple and fun-filled adventure that has some excellent characters, a whole lot of laughs and just a splash of heart.