Paul / Animal Kingdom / West Is West

Two nights, three films. Well, there’s lots out at the moment!

Paul

“Am I harvesting farts? How much can I learn from an ass?”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: geeks find alien and go on a road trip with him.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost follow up a zombie film and a cop film with an alien film. They play a pair of nerds, travelling across the US to visit known UFO/conspiracy sites who come across an alien called Paul. Paul asks them to help him escape a group of “men in black” (led by somewhat psycho Jason Bateman) and to safety.

It’s a decent enough little road trip film with quite a few giggles, the majority of them low-brow. The CGI on Paul himself (voiced by Seth Rogan) is pretty impressive, but the characters themselves are more 2-dimensional.

I was really expecting great thing of Paul, much as I was of Hot Fuzz. Instead, I just enjoyed it (much as with the previous film). If anything, I had as much fun spotting the genre references – and there are many of them – as I did following the story.

Not the classic I was hoping for, but still not bad.

Animal Kingdom

“It’s a crazy ******* world.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Teenager gets involved in a world of crime courtesy of rather dodgy family members with silly accents.

This film was nominated for 18 awards in Australia, apparently. There are some great performances, but the story is sooooo slow it hit tedium point for me.

It’s set in Melbourne, from what I can figure, and tells of a young man who’s mother OD’s. As a result he ends up locating and moving in with his estranged grandmother and his uncles, who are all dodgy criminal types. As the family find themselves victimised by the police, Josh (James Frecheville) is pulled further into events he wants nothing to do with while Office Leckie (Guy Pearce) tries to use him to get to the family.

If it was a 60-minute TV drama, it would just about work. As it is, it’s just too long and drawn out. There are some tense moments and, as I said, some excellent performances (chief amongst these in my eyes is Jacki Weaver as the conniving granny). However, it just didn’t grip me or have me on the edge of my seat the way a thriller is meant to.

West Is West

Plot-in-a-nutshell: A domineering Pakistani dad takes his English-born son to “the homeland” to learn about his heritage.

Released 12 years after, but set 5 years after the original East is East, WiW takes the same family abroad to George Khan’s (Om Puri) homeland. Starting in Salford and moving to Pakistan, the film focuses on George’s relationships with his sons, wife and… erm… other wife.

Young Sajid (Aqib Khan) is struggling at school, mainly he’s being bullied at school for being a “Paki”. He blames his father for this, and dad decided that the best way to deal with it is to take the kid to Pakistan. After all, he has family there – Sajid’s brother who’s looking for a wife, and George’s ex-wife and daughters who he walked out on three decades earlier.

The first film, despite being a comedy and hilarious in parts, was a very good social commentary on Mr Khan’s attempts to make his mixed race, English-born kids grow up as “proper” Muslims. WiW follows in this vein without repeating the story of the previous instalment. The humour isn’t racial or racist in style and manages to bring across the problems that such a family may have faced back in the 1970s.

It’s also more of a drama and less of a comedy than EiE. Certainly the laughs are fewer and less intense, but if you take it as a different type of film then it does its job well. The cast are all great, British and Pakistani; young and old alike.

Not one I’d suggest rushing out to the cinema to see, but certainly worth renting when it hits DVD.

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