Good Views (What’s new in video): ‘Paul’; ‘Mars Needs Moms’

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Paul

Universal Home Entertainment

★★★

Simon Pegg (“Star Trek,” “Hot Fuzz”) and Nick Frost play two British sci-fi nerds who come to America for a convention and get much more than they bargained for on a road trip to Area 51 and Roswell, N.M.

While driving through the desert, they stumble upon Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), an alien who just escaped from a secret government base. He turns out to be something of a space hippie who smokes marijuana, loves classic rock ‘n’ roll (including the Grateful Dead) and has a live-and-let-live attitude toward other beings.

Once Graeme (Mr. Pegg) and Clive (Mr. Frost) overcome their initial shock, they agree to help Paul meet up with a ship from his native planet so he can return home. Hot on his trail are government officials who want to continue using Paul’s advanced scientific knowledge. Along the way, the trio picks up a fundamentalist Christian woman (Kristen Wiig) who doesn’t believe in aliens.

Director Greg Mottola (“Superbad”) has delivered, with the help of Mr. Pegg and Mr. Frost’s screenplay, a broad and sharply funny satire on the world of science-fiction books and films, as well as alien visitation to Earth. Mr. Rogen (“Funny People”) delivers a winning performance as Paul, using just his voice to create a fresh, three-dimensional character with attitude. His conversations and scenes with Clive and Graeme are the motors that drive the film and its often sarcastic sense of humor.

Fans of popular science-fiction sagas (“Star Wars,” “Star Trek” and others) will find plenty of humorous jests and knowing touches to enjoy along the course of the story. Mr. Mottola’s skillful use of computer graphics in visualizing Paul and his antics is boosted by the work of a fine supporting cast, with particularly good turns by Jason Bateman, Blythe Danner and Sigourney Weaver.

The film is available in both a two-disc DVD set and a Blu-ray digital combo pack. Extras on the Blu-ray edition include a digital copy of the film and an unrated version. Other highlights are commentary tracks by Mr. Mottola, Mr. Pegg and Mr. Frost; a short feature on the creation of Paul’s look; and a feature concentrating on Mr. Pegg’s comic facial gymnastics.

One note for viewers offended by religious satire: Though Miss Wiig delivers a sweet-natured performance, her character is often the target of ridicule based on her religious beliefs.

“Paul” is a broad comedy in the truest sense of the term, and while it may offend some, it delivers the laughs many viewers are seeking. Rating: R for profanity, mild violence, drug content, sexual references and some crude humor.

Mars Needs Moms

Disney Home Video

★1/2

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