Sunday, April 17, 2011
There are two things to say about Paul, a game of Spot the Reference that could have been a lot more exhausting than it turned out to be. The first is its raison d’etre, a puzzle compiled by graverobbers who made no attempt to cover their tracks: here’s the Gorn, there’s the cantina song, someone just said “Get away from her, you bitch!” to Sigourney Ripley Weaver herself! No wit, no satire, just quotes from rotting carcasses that amount to a pleasant, nostalgic diversion with no return value. It’s postmodern plagiarism.
The second thing to say is what amounts to its thematic content, an unwieldy bludgeon against religion. Most of this subplot is a funny, if grotesquely disproportionate mockery of stupid creationist arguments, but there are moments of plain mean-spiritedness. The condescension jibes with the way the film uses violence to dispatch the bad guys, because that solves everything, but not with its feel-good façade of warm humanism. Make no mistake: Paul does not find value in every human life, just the ones that like comics and aliens.