PAUL * * *
Cert 15, 103 mins
If you were, say, 12 years old when E.T. came out in 1982, you’ll now be the perfect age to enjoy this film. Especially if your humour hasn’t advanced too much in the intervening years.
If you laugh at people swearing or think jokes about flatulence and weak bladders are hilarious, then you’ll adore Paul.
There is quite a bit to chuckle at if you have a more sophisticated sense of humour, but this film really is E.T. remade for not-quite-grown-ups.
It’s the brainchild of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who are self-confessed geeks obsessed with Star Wars, Close Encounters and other sci-fi stories.
They play nerdier and less successful versions of themselves, comic book fans with terrible haircuts.
Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) visit a comic convention in San Diego, then hire a campervan to go on a road trip of UFO hot spots like Area 51 in Nevada.
Then, in the middle of the desert, they witness a car crash. Out of the wreckage stumbles a little alien, with big eyes and a huge forehead.
He’s just how you imagine an alien should look, except he can talk, fluently. And he’s called Paul.
Voiced by Seth Rogen, Paul has been living in America for years and is perfectly domesticated. He’s seen Titanic, he likes Marmite and he smokes.
Paul has been helping the American government but has told them all they need to know, so he’s being dispensed with. He managed to phone home and his mother ship is on the way to pick him up, but can he reach the rendezvous before the nasty agents, led by Jason Bateman, catch up with him?
Naturally Graeme and Clive try to help him evade capture and along the way they kidnap evangelical Christian Ruth (Kristen Wiig). The Star Trek remake has made Pegg famous in America, thanks to his portrayal of Scotty. But he’s not yet a Hollywood megastar, so he can’t attract quite such a stellar US cast.
Hot Fuzz was a Who’s Who of UK talent, with everyone from Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent and Edward Woodward to Timothy Dalton, Anne Reid and David Threlfall turning out for him.
The cast of Paul is decent but can’t match that. Sigourney Weaver, star of many an extra-terrestrial movie from Alien to Avatar, makes her presence felt even if she doesn’t appear for most of the film.
Like the cast, the script for Paul falls a little short of the one for Hot Fuzz. But it’s still entertaining, with quite a few funny lines – and sci-fi nerds will appreciate the many in-jokes. RL
BIG MOMMAS: LIKE
FATHER, LIKE SON *
Cert PG, 107 mins
After Big Momma’s House and the inevitable sequel Big Momma’s House 2, the franchise rumbles on with a grammatically incorrect third film.
Thankfully, despite what the title says, there isn’t more than one Big Momma this time round. The world really can’t handle more than one Martin Lawrence in a fat suit.
Once again, FBI agent Malcolm Tucker finds an excuse to disguise himself as a huge elderly woman.
Because that’s hilarious, right?
Wrong. Oh, so wrong.
To add to the ‘‘fun’’, he puts his stepson Trent (Brandon T. Jackson) in a dress too, when the teenager and wannabe rapper witnesses a murder.
He has to hide out from the baddies, but Tucker also needs to find a flash drive containing incriminating evidence which has been stashed somewhere in Georgia Girls’ School for the Arts.
So Tucker becomes the new house mother Big Momma, while Trent enrols as pupil Charmaine.
Naturally he falls for a fellow student, while Big Momma is chatted up by the caretaker.
Now, are we really supposed to find two obese people playing Twister amusing? I didn’t laugh once, at anything, in this painfully unfunny film.
Even small flaws are amplified and become more annoying, like the way Lawrence pretends to drive – in reality the car would be all over the road with his wild steering. It’s also ridiculous how we never see the men transforming. It clearly takes hours in make-up but they can do it in seconds.
The movie is at least 20 minutes too long. Actually, it’s 107 minutes too long. Please let this be the last film, I can’t take any more Big Mommas. RL
JUST GO WITH IT *
Cert 12A, 116mins
Taking the rough with the smooth seems to be the new mantra in Hollywood.
Remember how Sandra Bullock won the best actress Oscar last year for The Blind Side in the same weekend she was a Razzie winner for being the worst actress for All About Steve?
Well, three of this year’s candidates are trying to pull off a similar stunt.
As a means of relaxing after his harrowing performance in Biutiful – which has made him a best actor Oscar contender on February 27 – Spanish star Javier Bardem made the awful Eat Pray Love.
Natalie Portman is a Best Actress favourite for Black Swan, but on the same awards’ weekend will be seen sharing bed sheets with Ashton Kutcher in No Strings Attached.
Then there’s Nicole Kidman. A best actress Oscar nominee for her portrayal of a bereaved mother in the recently released The Rabbit Hole, she now turns up in this supremely dumb comedy as a foil for the endlessly annoying servant of the uncritical masses, Adam Sandler.
This is one script Hollywood’s hacks could not make up.
Kidman, let’s not forget, received her own best actress Oscar for The Hours in 2003 so Sandler is the least deserving actor on earth to be sharing the same soundstage. But here he is, at 44, still as cocky as a teenager who’s just lost his virginity and then been served his first pint on the same night.
Adapted by Allan Loeb (who also scripted last month’s appalling Vince Vaughn film The Dilemma), Just Go With It is a long way removed from the French play which was adapted to become Cactus Flower starring Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman and the best supporting actress Oscar-winning Goldie Hawn.
Despite facing the menopause sooner rather than later (as Miss Kidman acidly reminds her), the now 42-year-old former Friends star Jennifer Aniston is still game enough to appear in a bikini alongside a blonde, pneumatic love rival played by Brooklyn Decker.
In Cactus Flower, the leading man pretending to be married for romantic gain was a dentist.
Here, Sandler plays a plastic surgeon called Danny whose lack of skills might serve one decent purpose if they sensibly put some people off the idea of having cosmetic work of their own done.
For added annoyance, you might like to know that he’s also directed by his regular man behind the camera Dennis Dugan.
This pairing has already given us Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy, The Benchwarmers, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, You Don’t Mess With the Zohan and Grown Ups – now that’s more rubbish than Birmingham’s bin men face in a lifetime.
Against this background, it’s a miracle that Aniston gives one of her more open performances.
Perhaps what she’s really saying is: ‘‘Will someone please give me a decent movie before I develop a turkey neck that even Danny wouldn’t try to fix.’’
Sandler’s fans will doubtless enjoy the gross-out humour in this strange mix of everything from toilet gags to terrible accents and a dead sheep.
And, love it or hate it, nobody will ever forget the hula dancing/coconut rolling contest in which Aniston and Kidman both take leave of the confused plot to heave their breasts in a bid to keep the hairy balls rolling up their respective partners’ bodies.
Even with the milk of coconut kindness, seeing is not believing. GY