Sunday 6 March 2011


(Greg Mottola, 2011)

Cruder and broader than either of the other Simon Pegg and Nick Frost collaborations (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, both, tellingly, co-written and directed by Edgar Wright, whose visual wit and lightness of touch are sorely missed here, competent though Mottola is), this explicitly combines elements of various genres, from the character dynamics of a buddy movie, some Kevin Smith style geek comedy, Spielbergian alien encounters, and X-Files agents, with car chases, gunfights and fist fights all played mainly for laughs. The tone is odd; perhaps because the narrative throws in some fish out of water comedy as two British geeks complain about American tea and justify the fact that British police arent armed as they are terrorised by various Yank stereotypes, their very presence providing some "comedy of embarrassment" along the way.
As such it's a mixed bag, some of it very funny (Kirsten Wiig's Fundamentalist Christian discovering swearing and doing it wrong), some of it not (far too many smug geek references), but it's breezy enough and sporadically charming.
Neither Pegg nor Frost registers all that strongly, their characters slightly generic and drab, and both utterly blown away by the CGI alien of the title, nicely voiced by Seth Rogen, whose way with sarcasm and irony are well-utilised. The alien gets all of the best lines, and is by far the films most charismatic performer.

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