In this film publicity image released by Universal Pictures, from...

In this film publicity image released by Universal Pictures, from left, Simon Pegg, Kristen Wiig, Nick Frost and Paul the alien, voiced by Seth Rogen, are shown in a scene from the film, "Paul." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures) Credit: AP Photo/Photo Credit: Double Negative/Universal Pictures

In the R-rated comedy "Paul," two sci-fi geeks encounter a real alien who turns out to be a rude-humored, pot-smoking slacker from a Judd Apatow movie.

Well, that's one joke. Ninety more minutes to go.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost ("Hot Fuzz"), the likable British stars and writers of "Paul," do their best to amuse. They play Graeme Willy and Clive Gollings, overgrown nerds touring America's UFO hot spots in an RV. Along the way, they pick up Paul, a computer-animated space dude with the voice of Seth Rogen, who is on his way to Wyoming for an important meeting.

Aided by cold beers and classic rock, a bromance blossoms, though the buzz is periodically killed by the no-nonsense Agent Zoil (Jason Bateman, whose deadpanning nearly saves the movie).

"Paul" is so good-natured -- as is Paul himself, thanks to Rogen's cuddly persona -- that merely hanging out with the guys can be enjoyable enough. But the film, directed by Dix Hills native Greg Mottola ("Superbad"), seems dead-set on being rough and "edgy." That mostly means gobs of profanity from Kristen Wiig as a newly enlightened creationist, and from Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio as the usual hapless FBI types. There's also an outdated gay joke from Rogen, who is young enough to know better.

The jarring violence at the end feels like another step in the wrong direction. If the filmmakers had gone for the milder rating that seems to be in their hearts, "Paul" might have made a passable movie for kids.


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