Paul (2010)

Paul is a funny movie, no, not on the same level as the Edgar Wright movies with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (especially Shaun of the Dead, my favorite of theirs), but still entertaining and with lots of ideas. It knows its characters very well and respects their geek culture without being too geeky itself. The basic concept is funny and the execution, apart from some scenes that didn’t work for me or felt out of place, is well done, too. It’s an enjoyable film, even if it’s not as brilliant as their other movies.

The movie has an interesting take on men and women. Our heroes are male but they rarely fulfill the expectations our society has from them. They are insecure, emotional and enjoy “childish” activities. In any other movie, they would be ridiculed or at least transformed into something more “manly.” While they change over the course of the movie, they are still pretty much the same characters at the end. There are some jokes about them being perceived as homosexual but this never leads anywhere and, most of all, they are not offended or disgusted by that. They deny it and don’t see where everyone gets that notion. They’re very close friends, that’s all and that’s exactly how the movie treats them. It is extremely unusual in its casual acceptance of men as people without any preconceived attributes for their gender.

There is also one central female character, Ruth (Kristen Wiig), who in the beginning is shaped by the fanatically religious ideas of her father, follows society’s rules for a woman of being obedient and not questioning her role. She goes through a complete transformation, as symbolized by becoming able to see with both eyes again, accepting atheism and sexuality as parts of her new life. Again, imagine how many different roads this could have gone, making her change a joke, portraying her as going crazy all the time, becoming a nymphomaniac or becoming a caricature. There is some of that here, but it’s well-dosed and mostly serves to show how she becomes, well, herself. A confident, self-determined woman, free of expectations, enjoying her life. It’s sounds very simple, but again, it is a rare depiction of both men and women that should be the standard and not the exception.