It’s quite rare in modern cinema to be able to construct a timeline between collaborators. The days of Scorsese and De Niro, of Herzog and Kinski, of Redford and Newman, seem like distant memories. The quantity of films being produced worldwide is colossal, and the amounts of money bandied about as actors’ fees boggle the mind, making frequent collaborations between actors very seldom possible, and even more seldom worthwhile.
Refreshingly, though, the stars and authors of Paul, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, have been working together for more than a decade; their screen timeline is simple to map out and even easier to enjoy.
Of course, there have been many occasions in between when the two have linked up, but it’s the two centrepieces to this timeline for which they are best known as a duo. It’s been a decade since their sitcom Spaced aired its final episode on the UK’s Channel 4, but the movie the pair have just made looks like a fitting wreath to lay at its tombstone ten years on.
An ambitious ensemble comedy, Paul follows Frost and Pegg’s English hyper-nerds Clive Gollings and Graeme Willy on a road trip across the U.S. of A. as they travel to visit famous conspiracy location Area 51. On the way, however, they meet the titular Paul, an alien trying to get away from the US Military – and voiced by Seth Rogen – whom they try and help ‘go home’, as E.T. would say.
This leading triumvirate of Pegg, Frost and Rogen seems like a potent combination: after all, Knocked Up‘s blend of pop culture comedy shares a chromosome or two with Spaced and Shaun‘s style of humour. Add to this a supporting cast full of familiar faces, from Jason Bateman to Kristen Wiig to David Koechner, and you’ve got one of the most exciting comedy casts assembled in recent times. The obvious problem, it would seem, will be trying to prevent the movie becoming a series of sketches in each of which a member of the cast is encouraged to ‘shine’, but with proceedings being helmed by Superbad director Greg Mottola, it’s reasonable to expect that Paul will avoid this particular pitfall.
Paul is not only an extremely interesting and exciting proposition, but also a chance for some of the best comic actors working to strut their stuff together. Promising to be part sci-fi, part road movie, part knockabout comedy and part chase flick, there’s plenty to get excited about in the latest creation from the Spaced alumni. February 18th is the date to be ready to get beamed up.