Even casual sci-fi fans should get a kick from Paul, a comedy that amusingly references every Comic-Con fan's alien touchstone. In fact Comic-Con is where geeky Brits Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Nick Frost) have made a pilgrimage before embarking on a road trip to hit all the extraterrestrial hot spots in the West, including Roswell and Area 51.
It's on a lonely road near the secret military site that they have a close encounter with Paul (computer-generated and voiced by Seth Rogen), an E.T.-like alien wearing surfer shorts and carrying a backpack. The little alien dude is on the run from the government. After milking him for ideas for decades — everything from movie plots to electronic gizmos — it has been decided that the next step is to find out what he's made of, literally. Not ready to be the subject of alien autopsy, Paul persuades Graeme and Clive to help him get home, a familiar sci-fi plot from The Day the Earth Stood Still to E.T. and Starman.
With men in black on their tail, led by a coolly deadpan Jason Bateman, they meet a wigged-out church lady, Ruth (Kristen Wiig), who wears a T-shirt with a cartoon Jesus blowing away Darwin. Dominated by her gun-toting, Bible-thumping daddy (John Carroll Lynch), Ruth accidentally ends up with the trio in their rented camper. Along the way to getting Paul back, there are more sci-fi allusions than you can count, including one with Sigourney Weaver and her Alien role.
The script is from Pegg, who had written the genre-lampooning Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz with director Edgar Wright. This time he teamed with acting buddy Frost. It's clear the two have an affection for their subject. Directed by Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland), Paul has a leisurely pace. Nevertheless, it's an amiable, fun ride.
Paul retails for $29.98 or $34.98 Blu-ray.