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Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen (voice of Paul), Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Blythe Danner, Sigourney Weaver, Joe Lo Truglio, John Carroll Lynch, Jane Lynch, David Koechner, Jesse Plemons

Director: Greg Mottola

If Pegg and Frost were even half as funny as they patently think they are, then their science fiction comedy would be hilarious. Sadly, they’re not.
What we get is a single joke – alien meets nerds – extended far beyond its natural limits and rapidly descending into a series of juvenile japes lavishly decorated with the ‘F- word’ in place of genuine wit or comic invention. While fans of the duo will probably be happy with the crass, coarse and crude humour on offer from the Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz stable, non-fans are unlikely to become converts to Pegg and Frost’s particular brand of obvious comedy and queasy bromance.

The plot melds Starman with E.T. when their characters – a couple of comic book nerds, in seventh heaven after attending a Comic Con shindig in San Diego, embark on a road trip around America’s most notable UFO sites and end up giving a lift to a mini-alien in the E.T. mould who is on the run from the authorities. Cue lewd humour which is no funnier for being uttered by the smart-ass know-all alien (gay jokes followed by the topper, “Everyone’s bi on my planet”) who claims “Agent Mulder was my idea”. Along the way Pegg and Frost liberate Bible Belt belle Wiig from her fundamentalist father and use their characters to spring a series of mostly less than side-splitting gags about religion. And their idea of sophisticated wit is to name the pursuing US government agent, gamely played by Bateman, ‘Lorenzo Zoil’.

Rogen gives far and away the best performance and sensibly stays off-screen to speak for the CGI alien. Pegg and Frost once again play Pegg and Frost, which I found increasingly wearisome, and my sympathy and admiration go to Wiig, Lynch, Bateman, Danner, Weaver and Hader for bravery in the face of a facile script. Mottola’s direction is exactly what the duo's screenplay and acting abilities deserve - he appears simply to have pointed the cameras at them and let them do what they want.

Personally, I felt I deserved better, and I’m a fan of science fiction films - and comedy.

Alan Frank

USA 2011. UK Distributor: Universal. Technicolor.
104 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 09 Feb 2011