Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. They’re of my generation. That’s right, the generation that likes to bang on endlessly about how it was great growing up in the 70’s/80’s! Chopper bikes, Star Wars, Evil Knieval, Look In magazine, Metal Mickey, did I mention Star Wars?, Moondust, Cheggers Plays Pop, Grange Hill, Pac Man, Brady Bunch, bloody Star Wars, crisps, biscuits…!
We are the generation that holds onto these precious memories like it was the last time we were ever truly happy and that life since has been some perverse twisted and bitter disappointment. I know I can be like that sometimes. I know some people who have advanced forms of this nostalgic disease. Pegg and Frost, despite clocking 40 themselves, have found their own audience and market in the UK with this theme and now they’ve taken it across the pond.
And they should fit into California quite well. “Typical Hollywood audience” Eric Idle once told the crowd at the Hollywood Bowl in 1982, “All the kids are on drugs and all the adults are on roller skates!” But though their previous films Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were enjoyable for their juvenile yet innovative and signature style of comedy, their latest film “Paul” seems to be regurgitated Hollywood pap. The story contains a checklist of characters and plot devices found in hundreds of films and which aren’t even delivered in any original order. Let see, there’s two mates, one of which gets the girl who joins them on this road-trip adventure. Oh and an alien. There are some “bad sorts” chasing them on the road as well as three cops, two of which are “comically” inept. And don’t forget to have a mysterious Bond-type villain whom we only hear through a comms-speaker until, surprise, surprise, they appear at the end! They get their comeuppance and the mothership returns to collect alien.
And sadly the film does nothing to sex up this routine of a text-book called Hollywood formula despite a strong list of cameos including the voice of Spielberg himself. Whilst amiable enough it fails to measure up to their previous work. There’s nothing clever; nothing that rewards the audience with an ounce of savvy – well not my generation anyhow. Sure there are heaps of references to SciFi classics, such as ET, Alien, Close Encounters oh and did I mention Star Wars?! Sadly the whole thing felt like it wasn’t scripted for my generation at all but for a more broader possibly teen demographic who are unlikely to get the references. In other words it was banal, bland, predictable and swimming in the cold gravy of mediocrity.
Could be time to grow up!
[rating=2] Buy Paul on DVD