EMILY MARCHANT gives a deep probing to the new Pegg-Frost alien movie.

aliens Film geeks nick frost pahl sci fi seth rogen simon pegg spaced

Directed by Greg Mottola

[rating: 3/5]

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are the forefathers of geek chic. They might not be fashionable (in fact, they definitely aren’t) but by the time they’re finished with us, we’re begging to be included in the comic-book clique, even if that means donning a faded Marvel t-shirt and learning to embrace the beer-belly that comes with it.

Diehard fans of the duo’s roots in obscure dorkdom (see 90s sitcom Spaced)  won’t be disappointed by their latest offering. Paul grabs the sci-fi genre by the space-balls with a kind of bold fondness. It gives us a dope-smoking alien (voiced by Seth Rogen) who was stranded on earth in 1948, and makes us wonder why we’ve never met him before. He’s probably more ordinary than the string of hillbillies, bible-bashers and just-plain-weirdos that line the highway as he, Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) pilot an RV haphazardly towards the ride back to his home planet.

As an admirer of previous Frost-Pegg collaborations, I’d like to be able to say that Paul is out of this world. The truth is, the film never really manages to blast off beyond the nerdy in-jokes that assume an encyclopaedic graphic-novel knowledge. As the first movie that Frost and Pegg have written together, there is almost the sense that the blossoming bromance is a bit too exclusive, and we can’t help feeling a little bit jealous.

Having said that, the movie is fun, and the combination of British humour with a more American pace and production works with a kind of jaunty harmony. “They don’t do tea properly here,” says Frost as he tries to rationalise Paul’s probing presence, “they leave the bag in.” The duo are aliens in a world of American sci-fi conventions, but their offbeat commitment to the obscurities of real science fiction allows them to twist the genre to our amusement. Watch out for a significantly diminished Steven Spielberg and a strategically placed Sigourney Weaver, both abducted and probed by the film’s oddball humour.

Paul might not be the final frontier of irreverent space-themed comedy, but resistance to the film’s charm is probably futile.