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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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The Lefty Hollywood Watch: Is 'Paul' really a Christian trashing film?

Simon_pegg The conservative right has its story and it's sticking to it: Any tax increase is a sign of Armageddon, teachers unions are out to destroy our educational system, Barack Obama is a Final Four-obsessed Socialist mandarin and, oh yeah, Hollywood is at war with conservative America's Christian values. That's the party line at Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood website, which regularly sounds the alarm against every tiny perceived slight against the right in nearly every Hollywood movie.

It was Big Hollywood that led the charge against "Avatar," America's biggest box office hit,  claiming it was full of pro-environment and anti-military propaganda. John Nolte, the website's editor, even went after "The Blind Side," perhaps the most pro-conservative-values film to come out of Hollywood in years, focusing on one shot that coaxed a laugh out of a photo of George Bush on a post office wall.

Now Nolte is up in arms about "Paul," the zany new comedy from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the guys behind "Hot Fuzz" and "Shaun of the Dead," which he's calling a Christian-trashing film, saying he can't imagine why the "Hot Fuzz" crew "would choose to go out of their way to antagonize Christians with a $40 million investment on the line...I guess their bigotry just got the best of them." Even though he clearly hasn't seen the film himself, he pulls some quotes from a few reviews to support his claim that "Paul" is some kind of "left-wing, atheist polemic disguised as escapist comedy."

Actually, it's a comedy. And good comedy has to be allowed to take aim at anyone, from minorities and silly, self-important bozos to crass opportunists and blowhards of all shapes, colors, creeds and political stripes. With "Paul," Pegg and Frost decided to make fun of America's Comic-Con geekdom, so the film revolves around a pair of sci-fi nerds on an odyssey through our UFO heartland. They do have fun with a religious fundamentalist (played by the wonderful Kristin Wiig) living in a trailer park, but if you can't laugh at the sight of her wearing a T-shirt showing Jesus shooting Darwin, then you clearly have a humor deficiency.

Nolte has been crowing that "Paul" had a weak opening, since he believes that supports the party line at  Big Hollywood, which is convinced that Hollywood lefties are so eager to send ideological messages that they keep losing money on films that insult God-fearing Americans. Actually, Hollywood loses money on all sorts of movies all the time, but if Nolte really believes that Hollywood is driven by ideological, not profit, motives, someone should let him sit in on a couple of studio marketing meetings in which the marketing team is desperately trying to find ways to reach every sliver and slice of every demographic known to man.

In Hollywood, capitalism reigns supreme. They want the blue state audience and the red state audience and everyone in between. As for a comedy like "Paul," the Big Hollywood true believers should lighten up a little. Or take some advice from New York Post's Kyle Smith, a conservative who gave a big thumb's up to "Paul." Smith believes conservatives should try to be less paranoid about possible slights, saying, "Going to the movies with our offensiveness detectors set on hypersensitive is the liberal's favorite pastime, not mine." I couldn't agree more. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes a nerdy sci-fi comedy is just a silly movie trying to make you laugh.    

-- Patrick Goldstein

Photo: "Paul" writer-actors Simon Pegg, left, and Nick Frost pose for a portrait earlier this month in New York City. Credit: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

 
Comments () | Archives (28)

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You REALLY want to see a movie that takes its swipes at religion? Check out "The God Complex." You can see the trailer on Youtube.

There's a new movie titled "Paul"? I guess the bigger surprise is that people still pay to go to the movies. I mean, like who has that much time to waste?

If the Hollywood left wants to pump its message in their product then stop whining about the financial results- viewers are still able to vote with their wallets.

Paranoia is certainly not a trait limited to the American right, by the way...

I saw Paul this weekend ... I can see why hyper-Christians (the ones who are always praising the lord at the weirdest times) would be offended. However, any intelligent person woul find it wasn't a Christian-bashing - or anything-else-bashing move. It was just a goofy movie that managed to incorporate Star Trek, Star Wars, Alien, Men in Black, Close Encounters with a little bit of Deliverance (and probably others). It wasn't side-splitting funny, but I got my money's worth.

Funniest thing I've seen since July 1947 ;)

Nothing says hypocrite like a gun wielding christian playing victim.

What is it with the right and the left, in this world we all need to laugh even at are selves.

Is Paul really a christian trashing movie? I hope so. That sounds worthwhile

A valid gauge of the "offensiveness factor" for ANY Hollywood film with a religious theme:

If this were a similar film about Islam/Muslims would the producers be getting death threats (like "South Park" producers did) or bomb threats or would people be rioting in the streets like they did in Europe over the mere printing of religious CARTOONS deemed "offensive"?

"They do have fun with a religious fundamentalist (played by the wonderful Kristin Wiig) living in a trailer park, but if you can't laugh at the sight of her wearing a T-shirt showing Jesus shooting Darwin, then you clearly have a humor deficiency."

Jesus died for Darwin's sins. That's the Christian point of view, so it's not a matter of lacking a sense of humor. For Christians, Jesus is not just a guy with a philosophy competing against other guys with their philosophies.

You may think I'm a Tea party nut with no sense of humor, but I'm not a follower of Ayn Rand or the John Birch Society. I'm fairly liberal and enjoy a wide variety of movies, but I usually wait for blu-ray because I don't enjoy the theater experience as much as I did thirty years ago.

I look forward to seeing 'Paul' on blu ray because my wife and I married many years ago at an anime convention and we enjoy humor involving fandom.

 
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