Throughout almost all of his career as a filmmaker, Greg Mottola has told stories that celebrate the sweet, funny and sometimes hard process of coming of age. In his latest film, ‘Paul,’ he does the same, but for two decidedly different characters (or at least characters of different ages) than in his previous efforts ‘Superbad’ and ‘Adventureland:’ Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost), two pushing-40 British nerds whose pilgrimage to Comic-Con is hijacked when they encounter the title character (Seth Rogen), who happens to be an actual extraterrestrial. Although the project was written by stars Frost and Pegg, Mottola gives their alien tale human dimensions, dispensing life lessons and laughs in equal measures as the duo liberally references classic sci-fi texts like ‘Star Wars’ and ‘E.T.’ en route to their own rendezvous with otherworldly creatures.
Cinematical sat down with Mottola in Austin at the South by Southwest Film festival, where ‘Paul’ played like gangbusters to a crowd comfortable with celebrating nerd-dom. In addition to talking about the film’s pastiche of references, Mottola explained the film’s unusually… mature coming-of-age curve, and offered his thoughts about telling stories that connect with more than the Comic-Con crowd that is flatteringly depicted in the film.