This latest collaboration between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost starts off quite well. As Graeme and Clive, two SF loving British nerds on a dream trip to ComicCon in San Diego, the pair look to be in top form, playing off each other as they wander around the con, meeting fanboy sellers and snotty SF authors. It should just get better from there when they hit the road in an RV and meet up with a real, live alien named Paul. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.
This road trip movie, which really had the potential to be different from every road trip movie before it, chooses instead to find the well traveled grooves in the road and stay there. Graeme and Clive have hardly hit the road before they run into the obligatory red necks at the obligatory middle-of-nowhere diner, who are just cruisin’ around looking for nerds to torture and kill. From there on in it’s one cliché after another, including born again religious fanatics, desperate housewives in RVs, trigger happy government agents, and Sigourney Weaver Oh My!
I think there was only one road trip movie (that I can recall) where the traveller actually ran into nice people on his way across America, and that was The World’s Fastest Indian. Funnily enough, it was culled from the memories of the man who actually did make the trip, New Zealander Burt Munro, so it may be safe to assume that not everyone who dares venture across the USA is doomed to meet only shotgun wielding red necks? But I digress.
The arrival of Paul, the alien, doesn’t help either. Hard to imagine things could actually get worse, or even more clichéd, but Paul comes with a lot of baggage packed into his skinny little green frame. No, not some new and amazing information about aliens in our midst, but references every SF movie ever made – including E.T. for which Speilberg used him as a consultant.
When we first meet Paul, he’s a wise cracking, weed smoking slacker, with the ability to bring dead birds back to life – so he can eat them fresh. By the end of the movie he is the usual perfect visitor from another world who can heal with a touch, and bring dead people back to life – because he’s really just this sweet alien guy, you know?
It does manage some funny moments, but in the end, it gets so buried in references to other and better movies, and cinematic clichés, that even the good stuff just rolls over and plays dead.
I paid to see this movie with my own funds.