Thursday, December 29, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [adult]

Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jason Bateman, Kristin Wiig and Seth Rogan
@SPL: DVD Comedy / Paul

In other hands, this charming comedy spoof of all things Alien might have resembled a hackneyed episode of the X-Files. But since that was already done by, well, the last X-Files movie, the British duo that brought us the zombie spoof Shaun of the Dead decided to take another tack. Or Trek, as the case may be. Instead, this is a great buddy road-trip adventure, in the same vein as the Bing Crosby and Bob Hope Road movies, with swearing instead of the singing. The DVD contains both the R-rated theatrical release and the unrated version – there is little difference between the two but the unrated has some unedited scenes and a bit more potty-mouth (especially when Kristin Wiig enters the picture).
Pegg and Frost play Graeme and Clive, two sci-fi geeks who have gone on holiday to the US to attend Comic-con and travel the Extraterrestrial Highway of the South West (it is real, you can Google it). They plan to take in all the sites – Area 51, the Black Mail Box, etc – but their plans are literally sideswiped when they have their own close encounter with Paul, a smart-alec, bird-eating, slacker of an alien who is on the run from the Feds; one of whom is played by the tightly-lipped and droll Jason Bateman. Over 300 animators brought the CG alien to near-life, and Seth Rogen gives him voice with heavy doses of sarcasm and swearing. There are homages to every sci-fi flick you can imagine but only a true aficionado will be likely to pick up on them all unless one listens to the DVD commentary on the theatrical version. There are as many celebrity cameos as there are sci-fi winks (that really is Stephen Spielberg’s voice), and the soundtrack by David Arnold takes you from a gentle cross-country landscape to suspenseful to zany in nanoseconds. There is a lot of profanity, some gore, and a lot of crudeness, but Paul is a funny little grey man, and Pegg and Frost are masters of understated comedy. I do not know how I missed seeing this at the theatre; it must be the ultimate sleeper movie hit of 2011. And I’m sorry if you liked the X-Files, but apparently Agent Mulder was Paul’s idea…

This review appeared in The Stratford Gazette on December 29th. Written by Robyn Godfrey, Librarian. 

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