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MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for language including sexual references, and some drug use.

Reviewed by: Daniel Thompson

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Sci-Fi Comedy
1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
March 18, 2011 (wide—2,700+ theaters)
DVD: August 9, 2011
Copyright, Universal Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures
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Featuring: Simon Pegg … Graeme Willy
Seth Rogen … Paul (voice)
Jane Lynch … Pat Stevens
Jason Bateman … Agent Zoil
Sigourney Weaver … The Big Guy
Bill Hader … Haggard
Kristen Wiig … Ruth Buggs
See all »
Director: Greg Mottola
Producer: Tim Bevan … producer
Liza Chasin … executive producer
See all »
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“Who’s up for a close encounter?”

Actors and best friends Nick Frost and Simon Pegg write and star in movies that lampoon people and movies of all genres. In their first two films, “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,” zombie and action movies received the satirical treatment, and the result was two very funny pieces of entertainment. In their third film together, Frost and Pegg have decided to take on science fiction in “Paul,” the story of two friends who discover an alien. While the trademark British humor is still intact, “Paul” does not measure up to the previous work of Frost and Pegg, and goes out of its way to ridicule Christians.

Graeme and Clive are best friends from England who are finally taking the vacation of their dreams. They have traveled to America to attend Comic-Con, a convention known worldwide as a Mecca for science fiction fans. After Comic-Con, they decide to rent an RV and see all the sites where UFO’s have been spotted. Things go awry, however, when Graeme and Clive meet Paul.

Photo © Universal Pictures.
The alien Paul, voiced by Seth Rogen

Paul is a foul mouthed, joint smoking extraterrestrial. Paul asks the two friends for help, as he is trying to escape the planet. After initially being scared witless, Graeme and Clive befriend Paul and begin a road trip, with federal agents in hot pursuit.

The plot to “Paul” is equivalent to a humorous version of “E.T.”, with more car chases. Plenty of humor is wrung from this plot, including references to just about every classic alien movie ever made, including “Star Wars”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, and “Alien”. Fans of science fiction films will enjoy the sly references to even more obscure movies. Pegg and Frost, the stars and writers of “Paul”, have clearly done their homework and pay homage to some cinematic classics.

“Paul” does suffer from some problems that were not apparent in the earlier works of Pegg and Frost. Most of these problems stem from director Greg Mottola. Mottola, who directed “Superbad”, does not really know how to handle this material, and “Paul” comes off uneven.

The other problem with “Paul” is its objectionable content. Just as in their earlier films, Paul does contain a great deal of foul language that includes just about every profanity imaginable. There is plenty of drug use, which the film seems to applaud, and the movie also contains its fair share of blood and violence. While there are no nude or sex scenes, there are several with crude sexual dialogue that are played for laughs.

One specific aspect of the objectionable content had me puzzled. “Paul” goes out of its way to ridicule the Christian faith. They do this in several ways, but mainly through the character of Ruth Buggs (played by Kristen Wiig). Graeme and Clive meet Ruth at a Christian RV park, and she joins them on their journey. The character of Ruth is portrayed as stupid, ignorant, and gullible for believing in intelligent design and Creation. The existence of Paul helps the two prove to Ruth how irrational her faith is, and, from that point forward, she disregards her belief system. While the makers of “Paul” were clearly having a go at all religions that believe in a creator, they chose to single out Christianity.

It’s unreasonable to think that a Hollywood production would portray Christians correctly, and it also comes as no surprise that the portrayal of Christians in this film is negative. What is surprising is that the underlying themes of “Paul” deal with faith, fate, love, and sacrifice. It’s as if the makers of “Paul” went out of their way to criticize what they think Christianity is all about, while at the same time they were emphasizing what Christianity is actually all about. As Christians, that’s where we come in. We can show the world, through the way we live our lives, that portrayals like this could not be further from the truth.

It is a difficult task to blend heart and satire, but Simon Pegg and Nick Frost do it successfully. While not as funny as their earlier works, there is still quite a bit of humor to be found in “Paul”. Unfortunately, there’s also a great deal of objectionable content which means most Christians would be far better suited finding their humor some place else.

  • Foul Language: Extreme
  • Sex/Nudity: Extreme
  • Violence: Heavy

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Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:


Neutral—…Use common sense before going to see movies. Common sense is clearly lacking among many Christians today.

As for my review, it was very funny, and it was technically incredible (as an animator myself, I was geeking out at how cool Paul looked) but I cannot say I “liked it”, because it did take a lot of shots at Christians. I knew this going in, so I was not surprised… If you go see the film, take everything the film says about Christianity with a grain of salt. Believe it or not, this is actually how the world views us. Above all, USE COMMON SENSE and don’t take your 4 year old to an R-rated film because it features an animated character…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Jim, age 21 (USA)
Neutral—I wasn’t expecting the next “Dumb and Dumber” or “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” to name a few greats, and I think that low expectation paved the way for an enjoyable time. Honestly, this ain’t a half-bad comedy. It’s def. Not suitable for younger folks, given the lewd joking, but it’s got its moments.

As an added bonus, a lot of familiar faces from mainstream comedies these days either star in “Paul” or make cameos. George Bluth (like Jason Bateman) from the phenomenal “Arrested Development” is one such person. I will note, however, the biggest drawback is the ending; it’s entirely fabricated outta straw wrappers and disposable cup lids. Meaning it blows chunks. Feels like a total loss of momentum from all the fun leading up to it, but oh well. It’s a comedy, so I don’t expect a stellar ending, but it’s certainly a plus (“Old School” comes to mind).

Comedies are engineered to make you laugh. The good ones do that and generate a few memorable lines. The great ones do all of that and create iconic characters, the stuff legends are made out of, like Doc Emmett Brown from the “Back to the Future” movies. “Paul” is neither great nor even really good, but for what it’s worth, adventure and comedy await.

If your delicate Christian sensibilities are too weak sauce for any other film to date that’s wiped us all over the floor, then multiply that bashing tenfold. This film and its agenda are totally out to slam us. But, in the spirit of comedy, free speech is king, and no one group of people should ever be safe when it comes to cracking a joke, imo. You dig?
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
Mega Tron, age 24 (USA)
Neutral—This was a funny movie, and I enjoyed it, although it was a little short, I think. From a Christian perspective, yes you will be offended. They do take pot shots at Christianity a few times in the movie. And there is the typical gross/foul humor from these known actors.

My problem is not so much with the movie, as it is the viewers. I always look for what are called “Red Band Trailers”. Which show you a R rated preview, this way you get a better idea of what to expect. And the actors alone in this should warn people it’s not a Christian movie.

If anything, I recommend it for the fact it lets you see what the world thinks, from aliens to Christians. It makes for a good debate. While we should shelter ourselves from such movies, we should also remember we need to not over do it with our avoidance of these things. How can we tell people about Christ,, when we have no idea what is going through their head? I see R rated movies because there’s always something for me to use in it to debate with people about and maybe get them to see what’s wrong with these movies, in the end.

So, overall, while the movie was offensive. I still say go see it, so you can talk to people about what’s wrong with it and how Christians really act. Better yet ask your youth group if any of them have seen it and how they felt about it. Then tell them what they should have noticed was offensive in it, and ask them why did they see it then. The only way the younger generation of Christians will learn is if we try to understand what it is that compels them to see such movies.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Matt, age 29 (USA)
Neutral—It’s important to know the kind of ideology this movie holds before seeing it. I didn’t know that, so the little time I saw it was enough for me. The movie does raise a concern, and that is the existence of aliens. I no longer believe in “aliens”. But think of the many children, Christian people who believe in that (media content). They would have no answer to “Paul the alien.” The truth, however, is this: …we humans are different from all God’s creations, because we were made in His image, we exist not only in flesh but as spirits—the divine. That’s how we are different from other living things. This movie helped raise this important concern. God can turn bad things around.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
Emmanuel Onekutu, age 21 (Nigeria)
Negative—This movie is extremely offensive to Christians. The movie starts off by reflecting a sad picture of our world, in that the main character, Paul, is an alien who has adopted all the negative traits of humanity, such as profanity, sexual deviance, drunkenness, etc., in his short time on Earth.

At about the 50 minute mark, the movie took on a blasphemous tone. The main characters are traveling across the country in an RV with Paul, while being chased by a mysterious government agent. One of their stops leads them to a trailer park in the middle of nowhere, where they encounter a woman with an over-bearing father. The woman and her father are the typical Hollywood portrayal of “Christians”. The father is a domineering, crazed zealot, and the daughter is ignorant and sheltered. She enters their RV the next morning wearing a shirt depicting Jesus shooting Darwin with a pistol and the phrase, “Evolution This,” emblazoned across it. This leads to a dialogue between the woman and the main characters about Evolution vs. Creation. The woman declares that the Earth is 4,000 years old and was created by a Creator (God) and that the eye is evidence of that Creator. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
Kevin Minatta, age 39 (USA)
Negative—This movie blasphemes God, and I wish I would of never watched it. It is geared toward kids, and it’s not fit for a adult to watch. They are basically making fun of God and supporting Evolution—not to mention the curse words in it. I wouldn’t recommend anyone watch it. We need to take a stand for what is right and this is wrong.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
Paul, age 35 (USA)
Negative—I went in there thinking that is was going to be a dumb movie, maybe similar to E.T., but with stupid crude jokes. I found it to be way worse than that. The movie totally mocked the Christian faith, to the point that I left before it ended. There was just about every swear word you can think of throughout the movie and lots of crude gestures. Please don’t waste your time or your money watching this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
Heather Shorten, age 43 (Canada)
Negative—This movie looked like it would be so funny. Shame on me for not checking it out ahead of time. I took my two children 13 and 15. I wished I had left mid way through, rather than sitting through the entire movie. The movie purposely set out to make Christians look like foolish/blind idiots. Darwin and Evolution was not only pushed, but God was blasphemed. I have never taken the time to right a review about a movie at any time, but I was so offended by this that I didn’t want anyone else to have to through it. I left the theater in total disgust.

The crude humor was bad enough, and the language was terrible too. The leading woman character after being “enlightened” by the alien, asks “Is it ok to fornicate?” “YES,” he replies, “Is it ok to cuss”—“SURE”—“What about drinking?” “Yup”—and then we get to watch this woman who they make out to be a mindless follower, to someone who is constantly shouting obscenities. The line to beat all lines was she stated that she had been “freed”.

Don’t waste your money—I regret the dollars I put in.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
Paul Hensley, age 39 (USA)
Negative—All I can say is that I am sorry that my wife and I went to see this movie. We won two tickets and thought it would be a “cute” movie, judging from the trailer we saw on TV. NOT! The language is awful, and the humour is totally “crude”. Jesus” name is taken in vain, and there is a total disrespect, or I should say “attack”, on Christianity. My review in two words: “Stay Away!”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
Jacques “Jerry” Lemieux, age 58 (Canada)
Negative—I came into this film with the hopes of being entertained. I know that actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost were in it, and, having previously seen their movies “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz,”, I was expecting the film to be funny. Not only was it not funny, it parodied Christians as feeble-minded and naivé, but I do understand that it’s not meant to insult believers. The issue is more with believing in Creation over Evolution, as opposed to being a Christian. However, the film had a nice touch by mentioning my hometown of San Diego, CA by showing parts of San Diego’s annual Comic-Con.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Shannon H., age 29 (USA)
Negative—I usually go to the movies for the popcorn. And when I approached the theater… the only movie starting at that time was “Paul.” I should have known better, that any movie with Seth Rogen in it would be offensive, yet I can overlook the language, if it is conversational, but in this film… it is the blasphemy against my God that forced me to walk out at the 50 minute mark. I have only walked out of three movies in my life, and this was one of them.

This is no accident. I was reading today in Matthew 24 and found Jesus” words to his disciples, “… and you will be hated in all nations because of me.” It is apparent that the world hates Christians because they hate our Christ and his message. I agree with many posts here… this is purposeful, and only prayer will change the unbelieving hearts in Hollywood.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
Jim, age 56 (USA)
Negative—I cannot in good conscience recommend “Paul.” I walked in expecting a comedy with some raunch (it is rated R after all), but when Paul begins to teach atheism is where I have to draw the line.

Kristen Wiig is one of my favorite new comedy actresses, and I cannot find fault with her performance in “Paul,” in fact I would say she lights up the screen with her energy but it is in the service of the wrong message. I am as liberal as the next guy, and I have seen movies with atheist characters, but “Paul” tries to state it as FACT that isn’t up for debate. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
Andrew, age 35 (USA)
Negative—Do not waste your money on this film. I am inclined to boycott any future films involving Seth Rogen—unless it is to see them to pillory them.

I, personally, do not think that there is any copyright in this film in a number of international jurisdictions, because of the old laws against blasphemous, obscene and indecent works. It is an interesting legal question as to whether otherwise piratical acts in respect of this film are legal. The loss of copyright does not go to condign punishment and does not stop the free exchange of ideas—so I do not espy a First Amendment issue. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
Blue, age 52 (Australia)
Negative—Before I get into my critique of the movie, let me say that is hightime viewers pay attention to the fact that an R rating means objectionable material. How could one think “Paul” is going to be cute, like some stated? We need to take responsibility and do our homework before getting shocked and walking out of what we should have known we were getting into: bad language, crude humor, etc.

HOWEVER, there is no disclaimer stating the film would be an blatant attack on Christianity. And that is something to walk out of. I would not have had a problem if the movie would have had some fun contrasting Evolution and creationism and can even accept a few zingers hit at believers, if all is in good fun, and perhaps could even open a debate on the way home. I’m not thin skinned. This, however, was a one sided attack.

As far as the viewer who wished the film would attack Islam, I disagree. No faith should be open to ridicule. If the film had portrayed at least one believer in a positive light it could have been different. Skip it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
John, age 50 (USA)
Negative—I tend to have a good sense of humor, and yes, I did laugh at some of the parts of this movie. But give me a break. It was just sad to see this movie go out of their way to portray Christians as stupid people who don’t have a clue about reality. Furthermore, it is even sadder to have people tell you to take these insults with a grain of salt and that we have to accept that this is how people see us. I don’t know a single Christian who would have acted the way Ruth did.

Her comment on the eye being proof that Evolution is a fraud was not even fully discussed or displayed. All that Paul stated was that the eye was formed over billions of years, but he never answer the question on how it could have happened, since each part of the eye would have had to form one at a time as if Evolution knew what the end result would be. Why would a being suddenly have eye sockets or a retina, or a lens even though there is no use for it whatsoever? None of the parts would suddenly show up with no use until the very end.

Yeah right; we sure see that type of Evolution taking shape today don’t we? With all the hundreds of animals having body parts that have no function whatsoever. The simple fact is as Christians, the light of Christ shines through us. And as it says in the book of John, the darkness does not understand the light.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
Troy Mendez, age 36 (USA)
Negative—Although this movie purposely mocks Christianity, I must say it is very accurate. The alien says exactly what I would expect an alien from another world to say, considering the fact that alien phenomena is satanic in origin. If it wasn’t so offensive, it would actually provide good material for a discussion of the lie of Evolution.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
Frank, age 43 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—“Paul” was a pretty funny movie, but extremely offensive. I hated the message of Evolution and that God doesn’t exist. Because God does exist. There was a lot of language, violence, and sex/nudity that I laughed at, but ignored, too. I don’t recommend “Paul,” but it could be good for any 18 years and up. So, overall, it was a good movie, but offensive. It could’ve been better if all the nasty and false stuff was taken out!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Andre, age 15 (Canada)
Negative—I bet you’re all wondering why a 13 year old would be seeing this movie… Well, let me just say, that I didn’t know the rating or anything about this movie… I was at my friends house, and they asked me if I had heard of the movie “Paul,” and I said, “no.” So they told me it was a really funny movie, and that I would “love it”. Sadly, I did not “love” the movie; I hated it. Yes, it was funny and all, but the offensive content in the movie is higher than any movie I have ever seen. The movie has every type of offensive content, from swearing to sexual talk and content. It has countless uses of the f-word in it.

In the movie, they try to prove that God doesn’t exist… They failed miserably. Just when all else seemed lost… There was one likable character who was a Christian. But then they had to ruin it by the scene where Paul was in the other room where she couldn’t see him, and they were fighting over the existence of God when he so called “proves” it by showing her that there isn’t a God. Once she finds out that everything she believed in turned out to be “fake,” she then immediately grabs the guys private part. The whole “message” of that part is that God doesn’t exist, so you should go out and do whatever you want. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
Austin, age 13-14
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—So I rented this out on Netflix along with “Fury” (2014) and what do I get? Both films being worldy, however, at least “Fury” didn't mock God or the Bible, if they were ever mentioned. In fact, during the end sequence, they take comfort with a Bible passage before the final fight. However, “Paul” blasmphemes the Lord with the Evolution nonsense. I wish I read these comments first before renting the film.

As soon as Ruth turned away from the Lord, I tried watching it for the next few minutes, only to realize I no longer could. It's like my soul was drained from me. This is the first film in years that I rented that I never finished and had it shipped back. I’m fed up at how films like these mock all Christians. Would they like it if we made a film about athiests looking dumb? Pretty sure not.
Terry, age 33 (USA)
Negative—Okay, how blind are you people? I mean come on!! This film is CLEARLY RATED R. So why do I see comments saying that “this looked like a cute movie~” or even more disturbingly dimwitted, “this was a movie geared toward kids~!” FALSE! This film was geared towards adults and anyone stupid enough to waste their time. Note: Just because a movie has an animated character(s), does not always mean it is for kids. Evidence: “Felidae” (1994). …
Koi, age 14 (USA)
Negative—Bad movie. Walked out half-way through. It directly attacks and mocks the Bible, Christianity and Christians.
Dave Hart, age 41 (USA)
Neutral—I think we all need to pray for Kristen Wiig, who plays the “Christian” in “Paul.” The only way we may have heard her name is when her voice appears in full-length animated films. Otherwise she only gets bad parts. She’s stuck on “Saturday Night Live,” which, as it’s done now, brings your spirit down.
Mvjimo, age 58 (USA)