This month I was asked to choose the genre for Movierob's Genre Grandeur. Having studied the list of genres that have gone before, I realised there was one that hadn't been chosen...road trip movies. There are so many great road trip movies; Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Smokey and the Bandit, Thelma and Louise, Midnight Run, Due Date, Fanboys, The Hitman's Bodyguard, Dumb and Dumber, and even one called Road Trip.
Most of them involve crazy adventures, insane stunts, a lot of bickering and laughing and many modes of transport. Although I don't think any of them ever found an alien, which is exactly what happens in the movie I've chosen to review; "Paul". After visiting Comic Con, Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost) travel across the US visiting famous UFO related locations. Along the way they pick up Paul, an alien on the run from the government, who they have to help get home before the "Big Guy" catches up with them.
Paul - the concept for which Pegg and Frost came up with on the set of Shaun of the Dead - was originally meant to be their next collaboration with Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright. But Wright was busy working on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World so directing duties fell to Greg Mottola (Superbad). The result of which is a fusion of styles, Shaun of the Dead meets Superbad with the geeky nature of Fanboys and The Big Bang Theory thrown into the mix. The movie is loaded with science fiction and pop culture references, many of which link to Steven Spielberg and his work, hence his cameo. Everything from Star Wars to Star Trek, E.T. to Indiana Jones, Close Encounters to Mork and Mindy, even Deliverance gets a mention! But it's more than just a bunch of references strung together; Paul is a riotous adventure thanks to a brilliant cast, some mad antics and incredible scenery.
As part of their research, Pegg and Frost travelled the same route their characters take, albeit in a much nicer RV. On their travels they stopped at the Little A'Le'Inn, there much like in the movie they met a friendly waitress and some not so friendly locals. Having been on a road trip in the US, one of the things I think they got right is the slight fish out of water feeling. Graeme and Clive, like most tourists don't quite fit in. The scene at the petrol station (or should I say gas station?) where the pair talk to the State Trooper sums it up perfectly. He asks them about the gun culture in England, specifically how Police Officers shoot people if they don't have guns. To which Graeme and Clive sheepishly reply, "They don't". And it's this quirky humour that grounds the story.
It's interesting to wonder how different Paul would be had Edgar Wright been available to direct. Not to take anything away from Greg Mottola's work, he did a great job as director, but could this have been the third instalment in the Cornetto Trilogy? Would we still have The World's End?
This is a movie that was made with sci-fi fans in mind, but you don't have to be one to enjoy it. Paul isn't a science fiction movie in the traditional sense, it's a road trip movie about a bunch of people who help a guy on the run, who just happens to be an alien. It doesn't matter if you don't get all the references - that's just a bit of fun - it's still a hilariously entertaining, underdog adventure.
What did you think of Paul? Let us know by leaving a comment below or find us on Facebook and Twitter.
Don't forget to check out the other reviews in this month's Genre Grandeur, to see them on Movierob's site click here.