After taking in the latest movie from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, my feelings are mixed. I feel that I should like the movie more, especially with its strong anti-theology slant (actually, only anti-Abrahamic religions slant), but I just don’t feel that it lives up to what the duo accomplished in “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz“. Maybe it was the absence of director Edgar Wright. Maybe it was the casting error of including Kristen Wiig as the crazed fundamentalist daughter of a trailer park motel owner. Maybe it was Seth Rogen as the voice of Paul (He has been on a losing streak as of late. The Green Hornet was truly unsatisfactory). I’m not a movie critic, however I know what I like.
Smart, witty dialog.
I didn’t get much in this movie. You know what I did get?
More of Paul’s anatomy than I really wanted. Scenes of borderline bad acting from really very good actors.
Sure, they had a pretty smart series of reference jokes around the culture of UFO believers. For instance, the bagel joke was well timed and delivered, but throughout the movie, instead of going for the intelligent joke, they went for the low-brow approach. Two actors really saved the movie for me, but they only appeared in a small portion of the movie: Sigourney Weaver was hot, smart, aggressive, and carried her scenes. Blythe Danner also brought about a good deal of maturity to the movie.
I also think they were a bit ham-handed about the whole religion thing. In fact, it felt as if it were thrown in at the last minute, just as a way to demonstrate yet another way the alien is/was different from humans. It’s the classic story of bible thumper meets alien->alien works magic that can only be explained by advanced technology (or in this case: Evolution)->Bible thumper loses faith and takes a nose dive to debauchery, as if non-belief equates to amorality. Not exactly the message we want to send to religious folks about atheism. If the others in the scene modeled a more positive, humanistic approach to non-belief, then the entire religious storyline would have been more palatable. As it stands, the atheistic scenes just added time to the movie without adding much to the resolution of the main storyline. Sure, it was a way to get the frumpy ‘thumper to go on the road with the trio, but there must have been a more elegant way to meet that need.
It was surprising, though, that in middle Georgia, USA, the theater was about half-full and almost everybody laughed at the fundies.