The Under-Ranked: Paul

18 Mar

This weekend, one of Britain’s greatest comedy duos come together once again for Paul, about two comic book loving nerds who happen upon an alien that they befriend. Paul brings Simon Pegg and Nick Frost back together again after Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, to both costar and write. Paul features a cavalcade of some of today’s best comedic actors. But before you see Paul this weekend, you might want to check out some of their under-ranked films.

Director Greg Motolla became a big name in comedy directing after the surprise hit Superbad. But his follow-up film, Adventureland, was a fantastic comedy with some beautifully handled dramatic elements. Adventureland stars Jesse Eisenberg as a student who finds out he must work over the summer if he hopes to return to college the following semester. What he believes will be the worst summer of his life at a crappy job at an amusement park ends up being the best summer of his life.  The film also features a great cast of supporting actors that includes Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Stewart, Martin Starr and Paul actors Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader. Adventureland blends comedy and drama in a way that shows a definite spark of the Apatow style.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are most well known for their work with each other and with director Edgar Wright, but they both have done some excellent work independent of each other. In David Schwimmer’s directorial debut, Run, Fatboy, Run, Pegg plays a man who runs out on his fiancée on their wedding day. Five years later, he attempts to win her back from her new boyfriend. While Run, Fatboy, Run does meander into some cliché underdog film stereotypes, Pegg’s performance and a sweet script by Pegg and Michael Ian Black, more than makes up for that feeling that you’ve seen this all before.

Meanwhile, Nick Frost held his own in Pirate Radio, also known as The Boat That Rocked. The film follows a group of DJs who take to international waters when the British government outlawed various types of popular music in the 1960s. The gang, led by Philip Seymour Hoffman, will do whatever it takes to bring the music to the people, while also bringing left behind teenager into adulthood. Director Richard Curtis is great with British ensemble casts, which he proved in Love Actually, and while Pirate Radio may be a bit overlong, the great performances makes it worth a viewing.

Seth Rogen, who voices the voice of alien Paul, has grown up as one of the most successful from Apatow’s crew of actors. Rogen became a star after roles in The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad, but one of his greatest characters is as mall cop Ronnie Barnhardt in Observe and Report. The film, which got lost in theatres to the popularity of Paul Blart: Mall Cop only months before, Observe and Report is a much darker and actually funny film, unlike Paul Blart. Ronnie tries to protect his mall from a streaker, while also trying to win over fellow mall worker Brandi, played by Anna Faris. Directed by Jody Hill, who has made a name for himself with dark comedies like The Foot Fist Way and HBO’s “Eastbound & Down”, goes almost too far in spots, but Observe and Report is uproariously funny as it is disturbing.

  • Travis McClain

    I definitely agree that it’s the cast that elevates Run, Fatboy, Run. I thought Hank Azaria was the real reason that movie worked as well as it did; he gave a foil to Pegg that wasn’t entirely mean-spirited. Thandie Newton scarcely resembled the same woman that had been at the crux of Mission: Impossible II, but then it dawned on me that nearly an entire decade had passed between the two films and I felt old.

    Believe it or not, I actually did see Observe and Report on the big screen when it was released. I felt at the time that the entire reason they made that movie was to help persuade us that Rogen could, in fact, play the Green Hornet. I still feel that way, really. It’s certainly darker than advertised, but darkness rarely fazes me and I enjoyed it.