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March 18, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

British comics Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who received abundant praise — and laughter — for their previous films, Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, are receiving much of the same for their latest film, Paul, with Seth Rogen in the title role of a computer-created alien. “After the sharp bite and harsh light of most American-style guy-based funny films today, Paul comes as such sweet relief,” writes Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times. Manohla Dargis in the New York Times agrees, writing that Paul is at once a buddy flick and a classic American road movie of self- (and other) discovery, interspersed with buckets of expletives and some startling (especially for a big-studio release) pokes at Christian fundamentalism.” Dargis has minor reservations about the film as do several other critics who are nevertheless quick to downplay them. Many suggest that the film will send sci-fi fanboys into delirium with its references to dozens of classic sci-fi movies and even cameos from some of their stars. (Even Steven Spielberg makes an appearance.) Linda Barnard concludes in the Toronto Star: “More about the uncomplicated pleasures of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll and the power of bros bonding amid a crisis, Paul is a simple, entertaining road-trip movie that doesn’t ask us to do much more than strap in and enjoy the trip.” Nevertheless, some critics are not so generous. “Here’s a movie that teeters on the edge of being really pretty good and loses its way,” writes Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times, who then adds: “I’m not sure quite what goes wrong” — an odd admission for a critic, whose mission ordinarily is to ferret out what goes wrong. But Carrie Rickey in the Philadelphia Inquirer has no such hesitation, pointing the blame at director Greg Mottola. “Because of the lethargic pace, cheeky jokes become positively jowly. And the easy lampoons of rednecks and bible thumpers beg to be called ‘Close Encounters of the secondhand,'” she writes.