While Edgar Wright made the deliciously amazing Scott Pilgrim versus the World, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost got to work on making a film that I found just utterly revolting. It wasn’t full of wit or style or any of the usual traits of the two men, it was just… horrid. Repulsive in its very core, I just couldn’t stand watching the thing. I laughed a little, but then the moment came back to hit me. I mean the moment that ruined the film, and they were absolutely everywhere. I remember Sigourney Weaver going on the Graham Norton show (bit revealing for me to say that) and said “There’s Nerd references every!”
So I saw the film, I watched it all the way through and at every one of these ‘Nerd references’ I absolutely rolled my eyes. There’s a scene where the alien (the titular Paul) is in a comic book shop and talking to a kid and there’s a rack of comic books nearby. I don’t want to spoil what was on there but it was really, really insulting. It took the names of popular (and even some unpopular) superheroes and made them ‘funny’. By ‘funny’ I mean fart jokes. Speaking of fart jokes, this whole movie was full of them along with gags about marijuana. I was expecting a sci-fi funny clever pop culture funny fun fun film… I got this.
So Edgar Wright made something amazing and it bombed, Paul meanwhile is a horrible mess of a film that prides itself in making fun of nerd culture. Want some examples? How about one crushing example? The amazing Back to the Future finished with the line of “Where we’re going we don’t need roads” or something to fact effect, it’s being a long time, instead Paul ends with “Where we’re going we don’t need teeth.” I kid you not, the film takes something so memorable and turns it into a non-joke. Even contained within the context of the joke it’s just… shivering.
You know when you get so revolted my something you just shiver and almost jump away from the screen? That’s Paul. It’s honestly the worst Pegg/Frost film I’ve ever seen and I absolutely loved the pancake mix out of Shaun of the Dead. It’s unsettling to see just how high of heights that people can fall from. I love the two guys as writers, they wrote Paul though, they put a smile on my face with their endless references in Shaun of the Dead. The little insertion of Timesplitters at the end I found was cute and a way of telling us “We’re just like you, see?”
But in Paul I just feel uneasy when another Close Encounters or E.T reference pops up. Every five minutes or so I’ll notice a visual mark from one of the great sci-fi films (I’m an uber-nerd so I remember everything). If I’m honest then some of the time I found it like the ending to Shaun of the Dead, just a way of shaking our hand and inviting us into the Paul-iverse. Unfortunately, the insults are larger in number to the handshakes. You’ll be happily enjoying the little cinematography nods to Close Encounters and then a goddamn fart joke involving Star Wars will just come out of nowhere.
I didn’t enjoy Paul at all because of its inconsistent nattering on about both being a tribute and insult to nerd culture. I’m told it was meant to encompass the films before it in a neat tribute package but I see none of that here. Either Pegg and Frost saw all of the insulting jokes as being ironic or they thought they weren’t really insulting. The film is set around nerds finding an alien and with that premise there’s material to possibly create a clever and quirky film based around celebrating the nerd culture. I feel making fart jokes about Star Wars is just a pathetic excuse for humour.
I laugh at stupid things, don’t get me wrong, because they’re so terrible you sometimes just have to let yourself go and enjoy the “Your mum” jokes. However, when it’s every five minutes and your friends are still roaring with laughter then you sink into this shell and then want to scream at the end when Pegg/Frost murder Back to the Future. Maybe I’m being too defensive about myself, since ich bin ein nerd. Maybe I should just point and laugh at that little weirdo inside of me, but the problem is I don’t need a film to do that, I do that anyway because us lot are the self-depreciating types anyway.
I can’t recommend Paul in the slightest. I laughed a few times but I wouldn’t call it a comedy, it’s got alright animation but I wouldn’t call it a kid’s film and I didn’t think at all about anything so I wouldn’t call it a sci-fi film. I think it’s the only film in existence where I can point out a few visual bits that look like Pegg and Frost are literally taking a shit on science-fiction film history. The only way they could’ve improved all of this is if they got rid of the CGI and had a puppet instead, they could’ve had all sorts of larfs and references to Empire then instead of ‘that joke’. I’m not spoiling it but I’m not recommending the film either.
Just know this: Paul is a master-piece. If you’re not a nerd and like laughing at people’s way of life not through clever means they can also get, but through fart jokes.