GENRE: Reference-o-rama road movie
THE PITCH: Aspiring sci-fi artists/fanboys Graeme and Clive (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) tour the UFO hot spots of America's Southwest, only to encounter the uncouth but friendly alien Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), who's on the run from a sinister government agent (Jason Bateman) and his bumbling helpers (Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio).
MONEY SHOTS: At Comic-Con, Clive ignores the scantily-clad "Slave Leias" to check out a little chick in a furry Ewok suit. Paul makes a memorable first appearance by smoking in the shadows like a film noir character. Paul dances by a campfire to Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up." At a comic book shop, Paul tries to hold a pose as a costumed statue. An elegantly dressed iconic sci-fi actress of a certain age gets in a climactic fist-fight with the heroes.
BEST LINE: "This is America! Kidnapping a Christian is worse than harboring a fugitive!" Paul exclaims when a comely trailer-park Bible-thumper (Kristin Wiig) becomes an unwilling guest.
WORST LINE: Any of the references to anal probing, which seem dated by at least 15 years. We should be thankful that Pegg and Frost's script makes no "Uranus" jokes, at least.
SETH ROGEN-EST LINE: "Shit, the Five-O! Let's bounce!" Paul exclaims when the police show up.
BEST REFERENCE: "I've been dreaming of meeting you ever since I saw Mac and Me," Clive confesses to Paul, shouting out to an obscure E.T. rip-off. It's also pretty funny when Clive and Graeme cheer the silly robot Twiki from "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" at Comic-Con.
FLESH FACTOR: Paul has a penchant for dropping trou and mooning, but you don't see his extragalactic junk. Graeme's illustration of a three-breasted warrior chick on Clive's unpublished novel provides a running joke.
BODY COUNT: Despite the frivolous tone, the last act features more gunshots and deaths than you'd expect, with at least three fatalities.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT: Paul footnotes E.T. with a Reese's Pieces joke, but most of the on-screen snacks are chips like Cheetos and Doritos.
NOTABLE CAMEOS: Jeffrey Tambor offers a brief but droll turn as a pompous sci-fi author named Adam Shadowchild. I won't spoil the Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and his Invincible collaborators Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley didn't make the final cut, but look for them in the deleted scenes from Comic-Con.
UFOLOGISTS, TAKE NOTE: The famous close encounter site known as the Black Mailbox makes an appearance and looks like the real thing.
HEY, WAIT A MINUTE: Paul shows off a mind-meld skill for Clive and Graeme, but it seems to have no actual bearing on the plot. And why does Paul have such creepy, human-style teeth?
THE BOTTOM LINE: For Paul, some of our greatest comic actors and Superbad/Adventureland director Greg Mottola team up for what might as well be an "Alf" for pot-smoking, Star Wars T-shirt wearing nerds. The film's affection for Paul and his raffish ways shines through, but the script eventually sounds like a straight-up list of lazy quotes from 1970s and 1980s blockbusters. It's like a half-assed remake of Fanboys, which wasn't exactly full-assed in the first place.
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