According to Nikki Finke the big-budget sci-fi comedy “Paul” will come in third place this weekend with a pretty weak debut take of just $12.5 million. Compare that to the second weekend take of the pro-military “Battle: Los Angeles,” which will land in second place with a predicted haul of $15.5 million — this, despite a cabal of left-wing critics doing everything in their powers to kill it off.
Why two actors, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who bought an enormous amount of audience goodwill with “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” would choose to go out of their way to antagonize Christians with a $40 million investment on the line is beyond me. I guess their bigotry just got the best of them. Once you add advertising costs to that budget, you’re probably looking at another $25 million, which means the sci-fi comedy will probably have to clear somewhere in the area of $120 million just to break even. Good luck with that.
Word got out fairly early that “Paul” intended to sucker punch we Jesus freaks and it was a controversy that dogged the film in almost every interview I came across with the film’s two stars. Obviously, they tried to downplay the religious bigotry, which is odd. After all, if the entertainment industry is driven only by profit and greed, the Christian-bashing must have been a financial decision, not a political one — so why try to spin it away if it’s going to put more butts in seats?
When sympathetic, left-wing critics wondered if “Paul’s” Christian bashing would be too much, you had to assume it was even worse than advertised. Well, according to our friends at Screen Rant, from both a decency and artistic standpoint, it’s even worse than I thought it would be:
While on the lam our trio runs into Kristin Wigg as Ruth Buggs, a fundamentalist Christian living in a trailer park, and oppressed by her drinking, redneck father. She’s a creationist and “young-Earther,” painted as about as naive and ignorant a person as you’re likely to ever meet. Once she meets Paul, her worldview is completely shattered and she immediately loses her faith. The scene in which it happens is actually pretty funny – she decides that she can now drink, cuss and “fornicate” (that’s a quote). She starts using her newfound permission to spout foul language, but she doesn’t quite have the hang of how to combine the proper words, and it’s funny for the first couple of times she does it (until the joke becomes overused, as the gag is revisited a LOT throughout the film). …
Let’s hit the controversy, now, shall we? The inclusion of a heavy anti-religion message feels very out of place, and I think even folks who don’t have “Judeo-Christian beliefs” (quote from the film) will sense that. The supposed humor is wielded like a club – there’s no subtlety like in Monty Python’s Life of Brian or Kevin Smith’s Dogma (two films that poked fun at religion that I enjoyed). Now ruminate on that for a moment – I’m calling a Monty Python film subtle in comparison to this. Some people have stated that in this regard the film is not mean-spirited, and on that I call complete B.S. It could hardly be meaner – including a scene at the very end where there might have been a chance for at least a small bit of grace (yes, that’s an appropriate word for this), but instead it was another slap in the face. Oh, there’s also a cheap shot at the fact police use, like, GUNS here in the U.S.. I wouldn’t mind if it was actually funny – but again, club, over the head.
All of which begs the question: Which are we going to see more of from “profit-driven” Hollywood in the future? Left-wing bigotry disguised as hipsterism or straight-forward action-adventure films that honor our military and explore universal themes involving duty, valor, self-sacrifice, and forgiveness?
Anyone want to bet on Hollywood chasing the profit over the political agenda — the same Vichy Hollywood that lost hundreds of millions of dollars on sixteen films and counting undermining their own country and its defenders at a time of war?
I didn’t think so.