Review: Paul Blu-ray/DVD

Paul Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: Greg Mottola | CAST: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Sigourney Weaver, Seth Rogen, Blythe Danner, Joe Lo Truglio, Bill Hader
RELEASE DATE: 8/9/2011 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray/DVD $34.98
BONUSES: bloopers, featurettes, commentary, galleries
SPECS: R/UR | 104 min./110 min. | Science-fiction/Comedy | 2.35:1 aspect ratio | DTS-HD audio | English, Spanish, French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

PaulThe premise of Paul promises lots of good sci-fi fun: Two geeks on a road trip visiting the alien-related sites in the U.S. meet a real alien trying to escape the men in black. And while the movie delivers as two hours of amusing entertainment, it tries a little too hard in some areas, so doesn’t succeed as well as Simon Pegg’s 2004 zombie flick Shaun of the Dead.

Pegg and Nick Frost (Pirate Radio), the two writers of the movie, star as the geeks from England, who get a lesson in hipness from Paul, the foul-mouthed, cigarette-smoking, argumentative little green man. Paul is perhaps the best part of the film. Voiced by Seth Rogen (The Green Hornet), the alien is funny, sympathetic and endearing. We feel for the poor guy, who has been locked up in Area 51 for 50 years and escaped after hearing about plans for his execution so humans could investigate his heeling and other powers.

The rest of the cast is filled with comedic big-wigs, including Jason Bateman (The Switch), Joe Lo Truglio (Superbad) and Bill Hader as the men in black on Paul’s trail, Jane Lynch (TV’s Glee) as a diner waitress and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids) as a Christian whose beliefs of creationism are called into doubt by the alien’s existence.

Science-fiction fans will get a kick out of the homages that pop up throughout the movie, including lines from Aliens and other great films and the bar song from Star Wars. Maybe there’s a drinking game in seeing how many you can identity.

Where the movie tries too hard is in the gags. Although funny, Wiig goes a little overboard in her creative curses after she comes out of her Christian closet, and Hader and Truglio are also a little over the top to be believable as agents.

The unrated version offers just six more minutes of extra fun that don’t seem to be particularly, well, unrated-worthy.

The high-definition presentation of Paul is top-notch. We can see all the details of the alien, who is created with outstanding CGI, including wrinkles and the slight pinkish color under his green skin. And the sound is rich, from the crunches in the bar fight to Paul’s creaky muscles to the boom of the explosion.

On the special features side, the Blu-ray is packed, and according to most of the footage in the hour of behind-the-scenes featurettes, the cast spent a lot of time messing around. For example, Wiig, Hader and Truglio crack themselves up as they improvise a very loose musical version of Paul. All the cast members have some time in the blooper reel, mostly laughing as they try to get through scenes.

The most interesting extra is the two-part making-of documentary, in which we learn about the evolution of Paul, how the film was conceived on the set of Shaun of the Dead and it took producer Nira Park six years and an RV trip around the U.S. before Pegg and Frost wrote the script. Pegg and Frost candidly explain they just wanted to get a free vacation, and they include lots of footage of that RV research trip, including when they got stuck in snow. It’s fun to see the creators bouncing ideas back and forth.

Other featuretts delve into the making of the alien, a montage of Pegg’s silly faces and Adam Shadowchild, the fictional sci-fi novelist (Jeffrey Tambor, Win Win) who Pegg and Frost idolize in the movie.

All in all, Paul is a fun way to pass some time.


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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.