A not-so-close encounter after all
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost certainly demonstrated they were a winning pair in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. It’s a strange disappointment then that a film written by the duo turns out to be a thoughtless and dim-witted flick about close encounters, science fiction fandom, and an extra-terrestrial affectionately dubbed ‘Paul’ (voiced by Seth Rogan).
Pegg and Frost co-star as Graeme Willy and Clive Gollings respectively, two basement-dwelling misfits who discover the wisecracking alien whilst roadtripping the US. Chased across the country by federal agents hell bent on harvesting the alien, the trio journey to return Paul to his mother ship, along the way picking up a bible-bashing redneck (Kirstin Wiig) and prompting her father (John Carroll Lynch) to enter the fray.
The comedy is fairly unintelligent, with much of it derived from homosexual subtexts and crude humour. But there are a number of odd under-the-radar references to science fiction and pop culture, many of which keep the running gag of self-parody circulating throughout the film. They’re clever, but not all that humorous either. If there’s one thing it lacks it’s wit and satire – something that the best comedy writers would employ.
The direction is fairly amateurish, with director Greg Mottola (Superbad) relying on Pegg and Frost to carry the action of the film. But even then the course of the film seems to lag between bouts of imprudent wit and unconvincing action sequences, with more intertextual references to underscore the ‘drama’.
Mostly it’s a big disappointment, considering the hype behind Pegg, Frost and Rogan’s roles. It’s still good enough to generate a few laughs, but on a broader perspective the humour is rather childish and unamusing. Maybe they might want to think twice before citing Lorenzo’s Oil or Blind Fury.