Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Review: Paul (2011), dir. Greg Mottola

The following review is spoiler free and is meant to be read BEFORE seeing the movie.

I liked Paul because everybody in the film is eminently likable. I liked Paul because it was a chase/getaway film, a road film, and a love-letter to the Spielberg/Lucas films of yesteryear. Paul is simply a movie that was made to make people happy and succeeds on that front.

Not-so-prolific writer Clive and his illustrator Graeme visit the San Diego Comic Con and then embark on a road trip of various UFO-related tourist traps. During their nerdtastic road trip, a government vehicle crashes in front of their rented RV, and they meet the car’s occupant: Paul. He’s an alien.

From there the movie goes out of its way to not only subvert your every expectation of a benevolent alien movie, but also pay homage to every movie of its ilk that came before. Numerous references to Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and E.T. can be found throughout Paul in the form of dialogue and replicated shots. At one point a character shoots a radio and proclaims: “…boring conversation anyway.” (There are also stolen bits of dialogue from Jaws and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom).

The best thing about Paul, however, is how well constructed a chase movie it is. It doesn’t let its pace slacken any more than it has to, and there is always the threat of being caught at any moment. Paul is funny, but also well-paced and efficient.


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