PAUL It’s just like Speed, except there’s no bomb! Also, Sandra Bullock is an alien.

"I HAVE DREAMT of meeting you... ever since I saw Mac and Me," says Clive (Nick Frost) to Paul, a little gray alien with the voice of Seth Rogen. Having interrupted the Comic-Con road trip of Clive and his BFF Graeme (Simon Pegg), Paul's asked these dweeby Brits for help: He's escaped his government prison, and since Graeme and Clive were driving their RV by right when Paul crashed his getaway car.... "I understand this must be very weird for you," Paul admits, deadpan, but despite some initial hesitation—Clive's first act upon seeing the big-eyed freak is to faint, his second is to try to strangle him—these two nerds are stoked to be palling around with a real-life E.T. Which is good, since one can only imagine the horror that would've ensued had Paul been found by a couple of Minutemen.

So Graeme, Clive, and the slacker alien hit the road, on the run from a cold government agent (Jason Bateman) and dragging along a hostage/love interest, Ruth (Kristen Wiig). They smoke some weed, blow some stuff up, and learn a little bit about themselves... and what an alien's dick looks like.

Here Pegg and Frost, sans their usual collaborator Edgar Wright (who directed the duo in Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and their sitcom Spaced), work with Greg Mottola, who's none too shabby of a director himself (dude did Superbad, Adventureland, and a chunk of Arrested Development). While Paul's first third lacks the energy Wright would've brought, Mottola kicks it into gear soon enough: Pegg and Frost are, predictably, a couple of charming dorks, Rogen's goofy, laid-back delivery fits surprisingly well in a tiny alien's body, and Frost and Pegg's reference-laden script (if Mac and Me gets a shout-out, it goes without saying that nods are given to, like, everything else nerdy you can think of) boasts a refreshingly straightforward take on America. In Paul, it's shitty but not unexpected when Clive and Graeme are harassed by homophobic hicks, and no one sensible bothers hiding their annoyance when Wiig's character is revealed as a Bible thumper.

Given Pegg and Frost's involvement, the comparisons are inevitable: Does the genuinely funny, surprisingly sweet Paul do for sci-fi what Shaun of the Dead did for zombie flicks or Hot Fuzz did for action epics? Ehh, not quite. But still: This'll be one of the better and funnier comedies you'll see this year.