Kristen Wiig, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg in a scene from PaulThe attraction so many feel towards this film has a simple motivation: its pair of geek celebrity stars, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The writing/acting duo first captured our attentions in the breakout zombie romantic comedy Shaun of the Dead, and then they maintained them with their followup, Hot Fuzz. The trailers for their third film, Paul, looked promising and it won’t disappoint. The guys take their fandom to a new level of dedication and hilarity – the stoner alien is simply a bonus.

Two sci-fi geeks embark on a pilgrimage that takes them to America’s UFO heartland. While there, they accidentally meet an alien who brings them on an insane road trip that alters their universe forever. For the past 60 years, an alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) has been hanging out at a top-secret military base. When he discovers he’s been taken prisoner, the space-traveling smart-ass decides to escape the compound and hop on the first vehicle out of town – a rented RV containing Earthlings Graeme Willy (Pegg) and “writer” Clive Gollings (Frost). Chased by federal agents and the fanatical father of a young woman (Kristen Wiig) they accidentally kidnap, Graeme and Clive hatch a fumbling escape plan to return Paul to his mother ship.

It’s a little difficult to say the guys’ acting is notable because they’re portraying characters that so closely match their own personalities. Nonetheless, they are as entertaining as ever. Their comedic delivery continues to be spot-on and they’re just so likeable. The bro-love is apparent between them and their characters, which means the chemistry is never lacking. Jason Bateman’s agent character is somewhat overshadowed by his cohorts, though his hard-line determination is amusing. Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio are hit-and-miss with their over-the-top performances, though they do instigate a couple of hilarious scenes. Wiig, as the cursing Christian, is a little much at times since endless strings of swear words are only humorous for so long. Rogen has a distinctive voice that sometimes does a disservice to his anonymous alien character, but he is also very funny so it mostly balances out.

There are a number of cameos, with three in just the first 10 minutes, including Jeffrey Tambor, Jane Lynch, David Koechner, Sigourney Weaver and Steven Spielberg. In addition, the countless fanboy references will have fellow enthusiasts rolling in delight. Many of them stay close to the genre, including E.T.; Raiders of the Lost Ark; Predator; Alien; Close Encounters of the Third Kind; Mac and Me; Star Trek; and Star Wars. The cherry on top is a Mexican cantina band playing the Star Wars theme in a bar.

Though this film is incredibly entertaining, it has to be said that it’s not up to par with the pair’s previous two outings. This may simply be attributed to the change in directors from Edgar Wright to Greg Mottola, but the dip is noticeable. In any case, it’s still a great road trip flick that happens to carry an extra-terrestrial as one of its passengers.

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