"Paul" (R): Sci-fi and satire fans 17 and older will glean some giggles at "Paul," though the film seems to try harder to create raunch and profanity than actual wit.
A couple of British sci-fi geeks, Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost), make a pilgrimage to the Comic-Con convention, then rent an RV and set off to see all the famous UFO landing sites in the American West. Near Area 51, they collide with a real-life space alien who has just escaped from long-term custody. He calls himself Paul.
Voiced by Seth Rogen, Paul looks like the creatures from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (PG, 1977) crossed with "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" (PG, 1982), but he cusses like a longshoreman, eats live birds, and has an omni-sexual obsession, along with a love of toilet humor and marijuana. Graeme and Clive eventually recover from the shock and let Paul travel with them, though his presence creates some jealousy between them. They soon realize they're being trailed by a secret agent, Zoil (Jason Bateman), and two clueless FBI guys. They also bring in Ruth (Kristen Wiig), the daughter of a strict fundamentalist who is shocked by Paul's explanation of evolution.
The script abounds in strong profanity (endless use of the F-word), sexual slang, homophobic slurs and all sorts of sexual innuendo. Paul, Clive, Graeme and Ruth all get high on marijuana, and Paul smokes cigarettes, too. Paul also encourages a kid to shoplift a comic book. Near the end there is lethal gunplay. The film's satiric view of fundamentalism and its enthusiasm for evolution will surely offend some moviegoers.
"Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules" (PG): As in last year's film ("Diary of a Wimpy Kid," PG, 2010), this sequel gains much wit and charm through the periodic use of ink drawings and narration from the fun books by Jeff Kinney on which it's based.
Kids 10 and older (and some between 8 and 10) will enjoy it for sure, but this film doesn't feel nearly as effervescent as the first. Perhaps it's just too familiar, coming out only a year later. Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) enters seventh grade now, with hopes of becoming more popular and perhaps hanging out with the cute new girl, Holly Hills (Peyton List). But Greg's pal Rowley (Robert Capron) is still utterly unhip, and his older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) still delights in tormenting him, despite Mom's (Rachael Harris) efforts to force them to get along. As usual, Dad (Steve Zahn) supports Mom but has little to say.
Greg's school year gets off to a humiliating start at the roller rink when he becomes the object of older kids' scorn. It's downhill from there after Rodrick throws a forbidden party while their parents and baby brother are away and Greg agrees to keep the secret. The movie's position on truth-telling versus tattling is a little vague.
Aside from gross-out humor -- bubble gum on a "recycled" pizza slice, a chocolate stain on the back of Greg's pants, the movie is very PG. Even Rodrick's party involves only soda pop and gulps of whipped cream. He uses black eyeliner when he drums for his garage band, but no drugs, booze or smoking. A new band member is older and scruffier, but even he isn't shown imbibing anything forbidden. Greg and Rowley watch "The Foot," a scary movie about a severed foot that chases people.