10 Things You Should Know About Paul

Geek Culture

Paul, image from UniversalPaul, image from Universal

If you weren’t lucky enough to catch Paul at SXSW last weekend or at Graumann’s Chinese Theatre Monday, then you can catch this sci-fi-comedy in a cinema near you starting Friday. Here are the 10 things you should know about it.

(To see the trailer and find out more, head on over to the (fully Flashed-up) official site — after you’re done here, of course!)

1. What’s it all about, then?
Paul is an wisecracking alien who has been holed up in Area 51 for the last 60 years, but now decides it’s time to leave the top-secret military base. He ends up hitching a ride with comic book geeks Graeme and Clive as they start a road trip after attending San Diego Comic-Con.

2. Will I like it?
If you read this blog regularly, then I’m fairly confident in saying that you will. The movie was written by and stars übergeeks Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, whom you may know from or Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz or the excellently geeky British sitcom, Spaced.

3. Will my kids like it?
If they’re old enough to get in, then probably. The film is rated R, as Paul likes his weed, and there’s a lot of swearing — and that’s British-style swearing, too. After meeting Paul, Kristin Wiig’s character, Ruth, rejects her strict religious upbringing and starts swearing like a trooper. Except that she doesn’t really know how to do it properly, so just strings lots of rude words together. There’s no mention of the c-word that I can remember, but her delivery of the medically correct term for that particular part of the female anatomy is genius.

Graeme and Clive at Comic-ConGraeme and Clive at Comic-Con

Graeme and Clive at Comic-Con

4. What’s the geek appeal?
Are you kidding me? Pegg and Frost pack so many in jokes and references into the hundred or so minutes, that hardly one of those minutes goes by without a nod to Star Wars, Star Trek or some kind of alien (small ‘a’ intentional) movie. One of the best gags sees the queen of sci-fi, Sigourney Weaver, having one of her most famous lines thrown back at her. And there’s a bit of music hidden away in one scene that might take you a few bars to recognize, but you’ll laugh out loud when it sinks in. And, yes, it really is that person on the other end of the phone in that warehouse.

5. When’s the best time for a bathroom break?
I couldn’t really say for sure, but because of a few pre-movie beverages with my fellow got-a-rare-night-out Dads, I popped out twice and I don’t think I missed anything important. I did however earn the ridicule of my fellows for echoing Nick Frost’s character and his “child’s bladder.”

6. How’s the animation of Paul?
Paul is very believable and well-animated. Apparently Seth Rogen recorded all his lines and motion-capture during pre-production and was filming Green Hornet when production began. Joe Lo Truglio — who also plays Agent O’Reilly — stood in for Rogen on set and used videos of Rogen’s performance as a reference. Rogen then used some of Lo Truglio’s improv when re-recording his lines, so the character of Paul is a blend of two performances.

7. What about the special effects?
Other than the finale and a few explosions, there seem to be surprisingly few of them — especially for a sci-fi movie. No lasers, no spy gadgets, no ridiculous set pieces. Well, maybe a few, but the fact that they don’t stand out means they’ve been done well, doesn’t it?

8. I’ve heard about some religious issues, what’s that all about?
The character of Ruth Buggs seems to have been made a strict creationist to act as a polar opposite to the fact that the main character is from outer space, and her turning “to the dark side” provides some of the film’s funniest moments, as she realizes that everything she has been brought up to believe in is in fact (maybe) more fictional (possibly) than the stories she was (probably) forbidden to read. And her stereotypically over-the-top father does need to be there to advance the plot at times.

9. Do I need to sit through the credits for a bonus scene at the end?
There a nice little montage of the heroes’ triumphant return to Comic-Con as the credits roll, including the obligatory Slave Leia shot, but when the photos are done you’re good to go.

10. Will I want to see it again?
Yes. And again, and again — if only to try and spot all the in jokes that you missed the first time! Superbad‘s Greg Mottola’s direction is adequate, but it is missing some of the visual flare that Edgar Wright could have brought to the movie if he hadn’t been too busy with Scott Pilgrim at the time. The score by David Arnold is nowhere near as exciting as Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy soundtrack, but adds to the tension when required. Pegg and Frost make such an excellent double act, and the rest of the cast perform very well alongside them.

Artoo and Threepio!Artoo and Threepio!

Artoo and Threepio!

Top notch fun, I loved it! As part of the PR rollercoaster, there’s an iPhone–Android app out that lets you Alienate yourself, and a specially shot video clip over on Collegehumour.com featuring Pegg and Frost in top form recreating Star Wars as Threepio and Artoo!

And for a little extra reading after you’ve seen the film, check out this spoiler-tastic interview with the cast.

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