Premise: Two British nerds fresh off a trip to Comic Con head off to Nevada to see the famed Area 51.
About: I believe this is the third collaboration between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Unfortunatley, their longtime director Edgar Wright is busy selling out and making Scott Pilgrim. So Pegg and Frost have decided to equally sell out and hire Greg Motolla, the director of Superbad. Pre-production is almost over and they should start shooting soon.
Writers: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost
Since “Help Me Spread Goodness” wasn’t blazin’ up the charts of any “to read” lists, I thought my Tuesday review should be something more mainstream. Everybody and their mother’s mother is piping in about this script so I thought, what the hell, why not review it?
Now I’m about to lose some major geek street cred here but…..Oh man, I can’t believe I’m about to say this………..I didn’t like Shawn Of The Dead. Not only that, but I thought Hot Fuzz was pretty unwatchable. Does that mean I hate Simon Pegg? No, of course not. I thought “How To Lose Friends And Alienate People” was pretty good. And that Star Trek movie will easily be the best of the summer. Although he was kinda upstaged by that mini-Alien friend of his, who, if I may be the first to suggest, deserves his own spinoff movie.
Which is pretty ironic because Simon Pegg opts to share the screen with another little green man in his newest movie “Paul”. Paul happens to be the name of an alien that Pegg’s super-geeky character, Graham, and his even fatter and geekier sidekick, Clive, bump into during their cross country trek across the good ole United States. The desperadoes of dork meet the little green man, “Paul”, outside of Area 51 not-so-desperately searching for someone to save him. It’s not like they have anything better to do so they figure…why not?
And thus begins the first cross-country roadtrip with alien-on-board. Paul himself is a 3 foot tall alien that speaks perfect English and has been advising the American government for the past 60 years after his craft crashed on earth. When Clive realizes he could have *the* Roswell alien right here in his car, he freaks out:
Oh my God! Roswell?! That was you?!
Roswell was a smoke-screen man, designed to distract from the truth.
They invented a fake alien crash to distract from an actual alien crash?
I know, fucking stupid, isn’t it?
What have you been doing here all this time?
Oh you know, kickin’ back, shooting the shit. Advising the government.
(Paul’s already told him the story)
Not just the government.
INT. ROOM – DAY
A room lit by a single bulb, furnished with a table and chair. PAUL sits with his back to us, he is smoking a cigarette, whilst talking on the phone. We hear the voice on the other end of the line. It is strangely familiar.
…I want him to have some kind of special power, you know? Something sort of messianic…
How about molecular revivification.
I don’t know what that is.
Restoration of damaged tissue through telepathic manipulation of cellular intrinsic field memory.
Oh right yeah. Like by touch sort of thing? His little finger could light up at the end and-
You know what? Sometimes, less is more.
The line beeps.
You got another call?
Yeah I gotta take this man. It’s the fucking V guys again.
Paul would still be kicking it with his government peeps if they hadn’t decided to terminate his alien ass. So he gets out of Dodge just in time to find the two biggest sci-fi nerds on the planet. Needless to say, it doesn’t take long for the government to find out who has their alien.
Our trio meets up with Bible Babe Ruth, whose entire belief system is shattered when she meets Paul. They find the 7 year old girl (now 67) that Paul’s spaceship almost killed 60 years ago, and who’s lived her entire life having the world tell her she’s crazy for believing in aliens (see the script “IGB – Intergalactic Being” for a similar premise). They also make a ton of references to Aliens, Star Wars, and Back To The Future. The majority of it is pretty funny.
However this script can never be as funny as it will be onscreen. You can practically smell the improvisiation potential on the pages. And I think that the duo did play the writing fairly safe. There is a scene late in the script that pits religion against evolution which, at the very least, takes a chance. But that scene is more the exception than the rule.
I’ll leave you with one last scene for the day. This is just after Clive, Graham, and Paul have hit something in the road.
EXT. DESERT ROAD – DAY
The door to the RV swings open, CLIVE and GRAHAM step out. The desert road is silent. We can see for miles. On the road lies a yellow and black bird, it is very dead.
Fuck, that made me jump.
Ah yes, the waspish markings of a Scott’s Oriole. Unmistakable.
What a waste.
Nothing anyone could’ve done.
PAUL looks at them, then scoops the bird up in his hands.
What are you doing?
PAUL closes his eyes. His skin ripples with color as he sways slightly. The bird’s eyes flicker, its head lifts, it opens its beak and tweets. GRAHAM and CLIVE are astounded by what they are seeing.
It’s a miracle!
PAUL stuff the bird in his mouth with a grotesque crunch.
I’ll miss these.
Why would you do that?
I’m not gonna eat a dead bird, am I?
[ ] trash
[ ] barely kept my interest
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned: I’m not sure I learned anything here but I did try an experiment. As I was reading, I was trying to imagine this script as a virgin property, not something Pegg and Frost had written or were attached to. I was trying to see how I felt about the script minus the elements and if I, or anyone else for that matter, would still turn it into a movie. I think I concluded that while the concept is definitely funny, I don’t think the execution is good enough to get a green light. Give it a try yourself. Is this a script that’s only funny because you can see Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in the roles? Or is it funny period? Please let your thoughts be known in the comments.