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Review: 'Paul' really is a foreign being--a Simon Pegg/Nick Frost movie that's not very funny

**1/2 (out of four)

British comic book geeks Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost) just came to the U.S. to go on a road trip touring UFO hotspots. They didn’t expect to pick up Paul, a laid-back, Seth Rogen-esque alien (conveniently voiced by Rogen) that is being hunted by government officials (Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Joe Lo Truglio).

The buzz: Pegg’s previous scripts with director Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz”) were sharp, funny genre send-ups that became worthy additions to the films they’re referencing. Without Wright, Pegg and co-writer Frost enlist director Greg Mottola (“Superbad”), an appropriate choice considering that “Paul” is another story about two best friends being chased through a brief, wild experience out of their comfort zone.

The verdict: Kristen Wiig’s endearing liveliness as a deeply religious woman whose beliefs change after meeting Paul nearly saves the movie, which rarely rises above mildly funny. Most of “Paul” just feels lazy, with jokes about people thinking Graeme and Clive are gay ; in Graeme’s compulsory romance with Ruth; and constant nods to but no skewering of sci-fi movies (Reese’s Pieces, “E.T.,” we get it). (The sci-fi legend who appears at the end of the film will have had her voice recognized early on by anyone who cares about her showing up at all.) An alien encounter would be memorable; “Paul” is forgotten before you get to the car.

Did you know? Paul can’t believe that people think aliens actually do anal probes, since there’s little to be learned from asses unless you’re, in his words, “harvesting farts.” Feel better now?

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Fridays at 7 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

Copyright © 2015, CT Now
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