Two Brit sci-fi junkies make a pilgrimage to San Diego’s Comic-Con, then take off in an RV to tour UFO hot spots from Roswell to Area 51. Enter Paul, an alien in shorts and flip-flops with the raucous growl of Seth Rogen. Paul has just fled the feds, who’ve held him captive since before Spielberg shot E.T. It’s a flimsy premise, but Paul flies on the comic helium provided by gifted actor-writers Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. If you never saw these wonderboys in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, get busy. Or just start with Paul, a cheeky spoof that puts a hilarious hurt to everything it loves, be it Golem or the Close Encounters mothership.
Frost plays unsuccessful sci-fi writer Clive Gollings, and Pegg is Graeme Willy, the BFF who illustrated Clive’s book with a three-boobed creature babe. Director Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland), in for Edgar Wright, who helmed the first two Pegg-Frost epics, makes the most of a zany cast, including Jason Bateman and Bill Hader as men-in-black agents, and the pricelessly funny Kristen Wiig as Ruth Buggs, a fundamentalist Christian with a yen for Graeme’s willy and a dirty mouth honed under Paul’s tutelage. “Ain’t that a bagful of tits,” says Ruth. Paul is more like a bagful of giggles. Rogen is a nonstop hoot, but it’s the byplay between Frost and Pegg that roots the laughs in characters we care about. That’s right: characters. No anal probes.