My take on Paul
I was pretty surprised when my non-geek Significant Other suggested we go see Paul, the latest Pegg/Frost genre send-up. We do like going to the movies, and go fairly often…but this just didn’t seem like the choice that would be made.
First, let me set my Pegg/Frost (I want to call them “Frosty Pegg”, but that doesn’t seem right) cred. I thought Shaun of the Dead was a really good movie, and I’ve watched all of Spaced (which I recommend…to the right people).
However, the trailer for this seemed iffy to me…it just didn’t seem that clever.
Seeing the movie, my reaction, as my offspring would say, was “meh”. It was okay, and had some funny points. However, while it was supposed to be deeply geeky, it seemed like they’d gone for the low-hanging fruit. I don’t want to be spoilery, but the jokes seemed like somebody who spent a few hours researching geeks on the internet would do. Slave Leia outfit? They did that on Friends…
The character Paul is interesting, but like the rest of the characters, seems too cartoony for us to really care about him. That was one of the strengths of Shaun and Spaced: there was real heart there. This struck me as nods to geeks, but didn’t get any deeper, really, than Alien and E.T and Back to the Future….and that’s not very deep.
Of course, a true geekfest (like Spaced) has somewhat limited appeal.
I don’t want you to think it was a waste of time, it wasn’t. I had some fun…although the best parts were probably in the trailer.
For example, I liked how Frost’s character is almost always introduced by Pegg’s character as “the writer Clive Goslings”…not just Clive. That rang true to me.
Seth Rogen, voicing Paul, is unusually restrained in the part, and that works. Another actor might have gone a lot bigger.
John Carrol Lynch (Drew’s transvestite brother on the Drew Carey Show) was virtually unrecognizable (and that’s a tribute to his acting).
Jane Lynch (I believe they are unrelated), Glee’s Sue Sylvester, has a small part set in the Little A’Le’Inn, a real alien-themed restaurant near Area 51.
What I would say is…don’t avoid it. If some non-geek wants to take you to a geeky movie, accept the gesture and go to Paul. Seeing it, though, I think I felt a little like serious artificial intelligence researchers feel about Watson the IBM creation that competed on Jeopardy. It’s a little irritating that people will think that’s the real thing, but it’s nice to see the interest. 😉
Oh, one odd thing, and I’d appreciate any insight. They made a real point about referring to a character named Keith Nash. It seemed like they expected us to recognize the name, but I didn’t. Maybe it’s an in-joke, but if anybody knows a geek reference to “Keith Nash” I d appreciate hearing it 🙂
Update (April 9 2016): I might have found out who “Keith Nash” is! There is a series of children’s books in by the British author Michael Hardcastle (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*). It’s about a kids’ football (soccer) team…and let’s just say that might be appropriate. 😉 One of the kid’s is named Keith Nash. They were being published when Pegg and Frost were children…
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.