Genre: Comedy
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:
[scrippet]
CLIVE
Oh my God! Roswell?! That was you?!

PAUL
Roswell was a smoke-screen man, designed to distract from the truth.

CLIVE
They invented a fake alien crash to distract from an actual alien crash?

PAUL
I know, fucking stupid, isn’t it?

CLIVE
What have you been doing here all this time?

PAUL
Oh you know, kickin’ back, shooting the shit. Advising the government.

GRAHAM
(Paul’s already told him the story)
Not just the government.

INT. ROOM – DAY

CAPTION: 1980

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.

STEVEN SPIELBERG
…I want him to have some kind of special power, you know? Something sort of messianic…

PAUL
How about molecular revivification.

STEVEN SPIELBERG
I don’t know what that is.

PAUL
Restoration of damaged tissue through telepathic manipulation of cellular intrinsic field memory.

STEVEN SPIELBERG
I…uh…

PAUL
Healing, Steven.

STEVEN SPIELBERG
Oh right yeah. Like by touch sort of thing? His little finger could light up at the end and-

PAUL
You know what? Sometimes, less is more.

The line beeps.

STEVEN SPIELBERG
You got another call?

PAUL
Yeah I gotta take this man. It’s the fucking V guys again.
[/scrippet]

The infamous Area 51

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.

[scrippet]
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.

PAUL
Fuck, that made me jump.

CLIVE
Ah yes, the waspish markings of a Scott’s Oriole. Unmistakable.

PAUL
What a waste.

GRAHAM
Poor thing.

CLIVE
Nothing anyone could’ve done.

PAUL looks at them, then scoops the bird up in his hands.

GRAHAM
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.

GRAHAM
It’s a miracle!

PAUL stuff the bird in his mouth with a grotesque crunch.

PAUL
I’ll miss these.

CLIVE
Why would you do that?

PAUL
I’m not gonna eat a dead bird, am I?
[/scrippet]
[ ] 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.

  • Anonymous

    Wait, you didn’t like Shaun of the Dead, found Hot Fuzz UNWATCHABLE, but liked that piece of shit How To Lose Friends And Alienate People? Wow, that top twenty-five script list just lot a whole lot of credibility.

  • Carson

    I knew that would lose me some credibility too. But sometimes you have to come clean.

  • http://hollywoodhubbub.com Frantic Monkey

    I appreciate you being brave, but you’re in for a shitstorm for not liking either Shaun or Fuzz.

    As for Paul I’ll have to disagree with you completely. By your ranking system I’d rate it impressive, borderline genius. My review was not as elegant as yours (they never are), it was just me trying to come up with 300 words about why it was so awesome. I think I just said “it was awesome” and then babbled for another 264 words.

    I can’t wait to see this when it hits cinemas.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08439555051697115476 Carson Reeves

    Frantic,

    I just read your review. So I take it you like the script?

    :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08439555051697115476 Carson Reeves

    I’m more of a Gervais guy by the way. Is that even a debate? Gervais vs. Pegg?

  • Anonymous

    HOTT FUZZ sucked. But Shaun of the Dead was the shit.

  • http://www.aaroncoffman.com/blog Aaron C

    “Gervais vs. Pegg?”

    Gervais. All the way. Which is why “This Side of the Truth” is going to be awesome.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00225527031089956829 Kevan R. Craft

    The humor is in taking the piss out of US popular culture from a Brits perspective and I LMFAO when reading PAUL… It’s all in the funny references, man…

    It’s definitely written from an outsiders perspective looking in and making fun of it..

    The thing about Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg and their mate Frosty is they make multiple references to stuff from TV, movies and popular culture in the movies they make and it all relates back to SPACED the TV series they made together.. Their work is like a variation of one long joke which gets funnier from script to script or movie to movie..

    It’s postmodernist.. They don’t do anything original but everything rhey do is merely homage using parody because that’s what they do and what they’re good at..

    If you watch HOT FUZZ very closely there are multiple references to classic British movies like WHICKER MAN amongst many others..

    That’s the joke but slotted in a regular plotted narrative of their own design..

    Come round to my house and watch Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz with me Carlson and I guarantee you’ll like them both when you walk away… Seriously…

    Gervais is an arsehole!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12891008781647357688 Michael Brownlee

    Gervais is a genius, IMHO.

    However, I hope “This Side of the Truth” got a major rewrite before they start filming.

    That said, Pegg and Frost are a different brand of funny. Kevan nailed it. Homage. Parody. Watch “Spaced”. It gets better and better as it moves along.

  • Anonymous

    Lowell, Massachusetts, 2008: The set of “This Side Of The Truth” (since retitled “The Invention Of Lying”.)

    Yours Truly: “Good morning! Hey, how are you? Listen, I’m what’s called a PA, and I’m here to help the extras find the wardrobe trailer. And if you want, you can something to eat from the craft service table!”

    Ricky Gervais: “No thanks, mate, already had breakfast. I’m the director. But I played an extra on TV!”

    Helluva nice guy. Didn’t fire me. We even later had a long conversation about British Comedy, Monty Python, and “This Side / Lying” as a tribute to Ealing Studios films like “The Man In The White Suit”.

    “Invention Of Lying”, by the way, is a BRILLIANT script, and I’m not saying that just cause I worked on it. (I worked on “Mall Cop” too, and that was shite.) I eagerly look forward to Carson’s review of that script.

    Off to read “Paul”…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02163221455899041141 Emily Blake

    All I know is I absolutely LOVE Shaun and Hot Fuzz and it baffles me that anyone can dislike either.

    So really all you had to say was “Nick Frost and Simon Pegg.” That’s it. I need to know nothing else.

  • Anonymous

    I found it hard to read, which is not a reflection on the quality of the writing. But every time I read a line of dialogue from Paul the voice of Roger the Alien from American Dad kept on popping into my head.

  • Anonymous

    No, Gervais vs. Pegg is not a debate at all. Gervais wins hands-down.

    Like Carson, I didn’t like Shaun or Fuzz.

    Run, Fatboy, Run on the other hand…hilarious. Loved it.

  • http://hollywoodhubbub.com Frantic Monkey

    Eesh. Run Fatboy Run was horrible. I went in with high hopes and was quickly let down.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06872780969179149381 martinb

    Smokey And The Bandit with an alien. Lots of fun and in-jokes, but lacking the final zany edge. I’m with Carson — improvisation could lift it that extra notch (much like 40 Year Old Virgin).

    Ruth in particular was somewhat unevenly sketched. As someone snatched from a humdrum life displaying unexpected spunk I thought she had the most potential. And I was hoping for more comical misuses of alien powers than just the dead bird scene.

    It’s not quite Hot Fuzz, which I enjoyed, but with some work could be.

  • Anonymous

    Kevin R. Craft – How does it take the piss out of American pop culture? I don’t see that. I mean, it definitely trades in a few easy cliches like guns, religion, and terrorism paranoia (the Muslim reference was the only thing I thought was unfair and didn’t make any sense), but since they are here for Comic-Con, it would seem they are CELEBRATING U.S. pop culture. And Paul is most definitely an “American” alien in his slang and his laid-back slacker attitude. Other than those few pointed but stereotypical jibes, I thought, if anything, it was a kind of love letter to the whole Roswell and CE3K mythos.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00225527031089956829 Kevan R. Craft

    It takes the piss out of red necks, the religious right and their views of creation, men in black, canned drinks and fast food, aliens and alien encounters, Rosell, comics and super heroes via Comic-Con and the dorks who inhabit that subculture, plus many references to movies and TV which the alien Paul has supposidly influenced by him being on earth for over 60 years.. Only in the US dude.. Take a step back the script is littered with these tongue-in-cheek puns on US popular culture… If you can’t see them you MUST be blind!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06872780969179149381 martinb

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Anonymous

    Well, dude, I think we’re talking about the same thing, just using different terminology. Tongue-in-cheek yes, taking the piss to me connotes something durogatory…and on the TV, movies, comics, geeks, it’s a pure celebration of those things. That’s why it ends up at Devil’s Tower. Rednecks and creationism is not pop culture – it’s just the opposite, people who resist and distrust pop culture. Whatever, dude. I appreciate you being so nice about it, and oh yeah…I AM blind. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00225527031089956829 Kevan R. Craft

    Anonymous said…

    “Well, dude, I think we’re talking about the same thing, just using different terminology.”

    That’s because I’m an outsider looking in.. I’m British and read the subtext as written by Pegg & Frost who are also British. The term “taking the piss” means in British slang terms extracting the humor out of a thing and this can be done as a parody or durogatory or any other way or method one can think of.. We British see the funny side of everything even supposid serious stuff which you guys indulge in everyday such as your culture and popculture.. Too be honest all your culture comes across as popculture there is a bluring at the edges you see.. That’s the problem with the media, TV and movies where does reality and fiction begin and or end? That is the question and those are the questions raised by poking fun at your so-called culture/popculture within the subtext of the script “Paul” – this is what I was getting at..

    But yeah, I see your point… Just wonder if, as you say, you being blind, can see mine? Hopefully I’e stimulated your curiosity a little and when you eventually see this movie when it is released you’ll possibly look at it with different eyes – maybe even enjoy it dude? Who knows? I know I shal.. I’ll probably LMFAO.. Oops, I used an Americanism.. Hehe… All in good fun dude… Just like the Paul script… Enjoy and thanks for your comments…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06872780969179149381 martinb

    Err… Simon Pegg is Scotty in the new Star Trek movie. Sheesh. And I’ve just watched it. Saw his name in the closing credits.

  • sherbetbizarre

    Cast…

    Jason Bateman.
    Kristen Wiig.
    Jane Lynch.
    Bill Hader.

    And as the voice of Paul… Seth Rogen.

    http://chud.com/articles/articles/19604/1/THE-CAST-OF-PAUL-IS-OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD/Page1.html

  • Kingston Alomar

    W….T….F….

    Is there a comedy out there that DOESN’t contain Seth Rogan? Jesus Christ. He’s turning into the white Sam Jackson.

    And didn’t he already do the voice of alien this year?

    Unbelievable.

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