Paul is the Pegg and Frost movie that’s most often forgotten.
It’s not part of the Cornetto Trilogy and it never achieved cult status. It’s just not had the permanence of their other works, being viewed as just a solid three star film at best.
Yet, after watching this movie again, we feel it’s time for a reappraisal. So here are five reasons we think Paul has been underrated.
It’s Pegg and Frost doing what they do best
Ever since the cult classic Spaced, it’s been clear that Pegg and Frost have an unusual amount of bromantic chemistry. Few actors are so comfortable in each other’s screen presence as these two and watching them makes the viewer feel like they are just watching a couple of friends having a laugh. Probably because Pegg and Frost are just that when they’re making films.
This means that whenever Pegg and Frost are on the screen together it’s going to be watchable, even if it won’t be as good as Shaun of the Dead. This is particularly true when they do science fiction, because they are clearly a couple of geeks. This love for the genre comes across on screen and is appreciated by fellow science fiction aficionados.
It’s got some great shout outs
Talking of science fiction aficionados, they could make a good drinking game from the shout-outs to science fiction classics in Paul. From the obvious ones like E.T and Close Encounters of the Third Kind to the more obscure comic book references, there’s roughly one shout out every scene. To some this will be distracting but to others it will only add to the film’s charm.
It’s a rare good Jason Bateman Movie
Whisper it quietly, but Jason Bateman hasn’t been part of many films that are actually that funny. He seems to specialise in creating the type of comedy you watch on Netflix because you can’t find anything else, then regret watching about half an hour in.
These movies are a shameful waste of the Arrested Development star, as he’s become a comedy version of Jason Statham: serviceable but instantly forgettable.
Paul bucks this trend simply by being watchable and fun. Batemen is even well cast and funny in his role.
Paul is a great character that’s perfect for Rogen
Rogen is great for Paul, Paul is also great for Rogen. Seth Rogen is amusing, but he basically plays the same character in every movie. A bit bumbling, a bit of a dick, but funny enough to get away with it anyway. It’s a good character, and he plays it well, but it does make it hard to forget you’re watching a Seth Rogen movie. Paul gets around that by Rogen never actually being on screen. We get all of his wit and delivery without the distraction of Rogen himself. An excellent combination.
It shows the trouble Brits have with fundamentalist Christianity
One of the standout characters in the movie is Ruth Buggs, played by Kirsten Wiig. When we meet Ruth, she is a fundamentalist Christian wearing an ‘Evolve This’ t-shirt which depicts Jesus shooting Charles Darwin.
Ruth Buggs represents a particular strand of the USA that British people just don’t get. We don’t understand just how whole communities can accept the concept of intelligent design as fact. We find it even harder to understand how these views are allowed to be taught in classrooms and given the same credence as actual science.
In Paul we see how Brits do react when we come across these attitudes and how we’d like to react. The way we do react is shown by Graham and Clive’s polite incredulity when Buggs makes her views clear. They just can’t bring themselves to fully believe that the polite and seemingly lovely person in front of them has the views.
Secretly, they want to react like Paul, confronting these views head on and with the lack of respect they deserve.
It’s a small part of the film, but an interesting one. You can see this scene for yourself below.
If you like aliens and comedy, you may want to take a look at our list of funniest alien movies ever. Or, if you’re looking for more film recommendations you can look at our greatest science fiction movie list.