Paul (2011; dir. Greg Mottola) is here because I am trying to record thoughts on each film I see. I am shamefacedly reporting that I did watch it, that I cannot remember why I watched it, and that the experience was without value. Paul is a stoner comedy about aliens. Basically, two nerdy and stoner UFO enthusiasts set out on a road trip to Roswell, NM, and other places of renown in the community of people who believe that alien visitations occur on a daily basis. Somewhere along the road, they run across Paul, a digitized alien with the standard shape and large eyes of aliens as envisioned by ET folklore proponents. Paul has lived among us for some time, and he is himself a stoner. Since he is voiced by Seth Rogen, there can be little surprise. The movie loosely parodies and satirizes ET and Close Encounters, but it’s real purpose is to elicit laughter through jokes and comic antics that have no bearing on Paul’s extraterrestrial origins. They are stoner antics, and this is a stoner movie, and not a very good one. There have been some entertaining stoner films, but the laughter and occasional warm feelings this film elicits are cheaply won.
Biological hubris has some bearing on the pervasive, wistful notion that aliens—if they are out there—would be basically like us. To suggest they would smoke dope, drink beer, and take on most of the less than savory characteristics of a pop-addled generation is something else, and difficult to name.