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Paul packs laughs

An all-star comic cast rounds out this clever, new-age E.T.

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Actors, writing partners and real-life buddies Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have a rare chemistry capable of making material seem better than it is. In Paul, the British buds star as sci-fi-loving dweebs who help deliver a friendly extraterrestrial (the voice of Seth Rogen) from imprisonment on Earth. In support is a team of perfectly cast comedy stalwarts, including the bizarrely endearing Kristen Wiig as a bible-thumping love interest, Jason Bateman – the funniest straight man in Hollywood – as a dour FBI agent, and Rogen, whose vocals-only turn allows him to drop punchline bombs without adding to his overexposure factor. Though it doesn’t match the Pegg-Frost classics Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, this wildly profane version of E.T. is packed with smart pop culture references and satisfying laughs.

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