Pull the other one
Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, a talking alien and a referential science fiction narrative. It’s no surprise that prior to its release this brash sci-fi comedy was frequently mistaken for the highly anticipated third instalment of The Blood and Ice Cream trilogy.
When it was announced that it was in fact Greg Mottola, of Superbad fame, directing this film the question everyone was asking is would British cinema’s most popular comedy duo be the same without Edgar Wright pulling the strings? Unfortunately, the British director’s absence is felt from the moment the film begins and provides the proof (if we ever needed it) of how fundamental he was to the success of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.
The biggest problem for Mottola is that he never escapes the shadow of Wright’s absence and struggles desperately to draw out similar performances from material that is not nearly strong enough. At least, the characters are written for Pegg and Frost and they easily perform as mere exaggerations of themselves. Fortunately, it’s the rare moments where exceed the script and allow their off-screen friendship to resonate through their characters that provide the saving grace for this film.
Where Edgar Wright was careful to embed each reference in to the narrative and comedy of his creations, Mottola lacks any subtlety and his overt references and painful exposition result in a film made up of so many others that it never once defines its own identity.
Regardless of how bad Paul is, and it is certainly not good, you can’t help but wonder if it was the initial confusion and the resulting increased expectations that caused disappointment for many cinemagoers.