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Paul

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(2011) ★★★

Channel 4: Saturday 25 April, 9pm

Touring UFO hotspots in America’s heartland, English comic-book nerds Nick Frost and Simon Pegg are waylaid by a little grey alien called Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) who demands to be taken north in their rented camper van.

Once the issue of probes has been dismissed, the non-plussed Brits are now worried about being fingered by the Men in Black. Sure enough, federal agent Jason Bateman is on their case. The Hot Fuzz jokers are here in fan-boy mode, riffing on all things sci-fi (but mostly Close Encounters).

For all the coarse language, it’s a soft-centred comedy that’s almost as sweet as John Carpenter’s Starman and always as silly as Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs. Superbad director Greg Mottola keeps things simple – there’s a distinct ‘what we did on our holidays’ vibe to Pegg and Frost’s script – and the funniest turn comes from Kristen Wiig as a trailer-park gal decked out in a T-shirt proclaiming ‘Evolve This!’ on a cartoon of Jesus shooting Charles Darwin.

This likeable, inconsequential movie is much funnier than Edgar Wright’s drearily hip Scott Pilgrim vs the World, and it also boasts Seth Rogen’s best work to date. Possibly because it’s only his voice on screen.

Certificate: 15
Duration: 104min