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SXSW: Greg Mottola Talks Paul's Pegg, Frost and Spielberg; Early Reviews

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 17, 2011 at 8:18AM

Here's what you need to know about Paul (March 18): It's a Working Title movie, which means that it's smart, tailored to intelligent audiences, and has a British sensibility. Co-writers Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead) dreamed up this light fan boy comedy, went on an American research road trip, and lacking their director of choice, Edgar Wright, they turned to Greg Mottola (Superbad and Adventureland), who has been earning mainstream cred as a director of sharp and funny comedies that do not suck.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Here's what you need to know about Paul (March 18): It's a Working Title movie, which means that it's smart, tailored to intelligent audiences, and has a British sensibility. Co-writers Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead) dreamed up this light fan boy comedy, went on an American research road trip, and lacking their director of choice, Edgar Wright, they turned to Greg Mottola (Superbad and Adventureland), who has been earning mainstream cred as a director of sharp and funny comedies that do not suck.

The genial comedy, which also stars Kristin Wiig and the voice of Seth Rogen as a remarkably earthy alien, played well at SXSW, without igniting huge fires under the film critics (it currently sits at 68% on the Tomatometer). In short, it's popcorn escapist entertainment, which Mottola and I discuss below, along with the difficulties of animating a major character in a live action movie and getting smart movies made in Hollywood. He also explains how Pegg's director on Tintin, Steven Spielberg, wound up with a cameo in the movie.

Moviefone finds Paul "funny and sweet fan boy pandering," while ThePlaylist loves the Paul alien: "he’s a wonderful creation. Double Negative‘s FX work is world-class, making Paul easily the equal of the best of the CGI creatures like Davy Jones and Gollum, and there isn’t a single moment in which he isn’t totally convincing. More importantly, however, he’s just kind of a delight to hang out with: profane, profound and big-hearted."

Here's my interview with Mottola:

Part One:

Part Two:
Pegg and Frost on Moviefone's UNSCRIPTED:

Trailer:

This article is related to: Box Office, Directors, Festivals, Genres, Headliners, Hollywood, Video, Reviews, Interviews , Media, SXSW, comedy, Animation, Trailers


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.