I Blart in your general direction
Paul Blart: Mall Cop is directed by Steve Carr and stars Kevin James.
The Adam Sandler production company that is Happy Madison Productions has been nothing but a plague upon American film comedy since its inception in 1999. It is the unholy sanctuary that houses every possible form of bad comedy known to man, a cesspool whose inner works would have the Marx Brothers and Abbott and Costello rolling in their graves. Adam Sandler may be considered by many to be the Evil Emperor serving as the mastermind behind the recent bad comedy plague, but not for a second should we forget about the almost equally terrible works of all of his partners in crime: Kevin James, David Spade, and Rob Schneider to name just a few. Among all of said partners in crime, Kevin James is easily the closest to being Sandler's best friend, serving as the head of Happy Madison's Department of Fat Men Doing Fat Men Things.
The mean-spirited nature of Fat Men Doing Fat Men Things is on full display in the Kevin James-led Happy Madison Production, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, a film whose comedic execution solely relies on the notion that Kevin James is fat. It doesn't take very long to realize, however, that there is no humor to be found in having someone say to Kevin James, "Haha! You're fat!", with nearly every other joke creating a path that leads back to this insulting statement. Calling someone fat isn't any funnier than acknowledging to a person that they have bad breath or a big nose. But, y'know, fat people are such disgusting human beings that apparently all they're good for is to be mocked and made fun of.
Being made fun of for being fat is one of many life problems for Paul Blart. He has dreams of becoming a state police trooper, but he is unable to pass the exam due to having hypoglycemia, a medical condition that causes Blart various symptoms when his blood sugar gets too low. Blart lives with his teenager daughter, Maya (Raini Ridriguez), and his mother, Margaret (Shirley Knight), and works as a security guard at the West Orange Pavilion Mall in West Orange, New Jersey. He patrols the mall on a Segway to make sure everything is in order, and he trains a new security guard named Veck Simms (Keir O'Donnell). Blart gets the hots for Amy Anderson (Jayma Mays), who works as the vendor for a new kiosk at the mall. It's the early holiday season at the mall, and Black Friday eventually rolls around, easily the mall's busiest shopping day of the year. During the late shopping hours, a group of thugs break into the mall and take several customers, including Amy, hostage. Blart, taking a break by playing games in the mall's arcade, is unaware of the thugs' invasion, until he leaves the arcade and realizes what's going on. Blart attempts to flee the mall at first, but upon finding out that Amy is one of the hostages, he heads back in to stop the thugs and save the mall from their dastardly plans.
Paul Blart is that mild mannered hero that is viewed as a hopeless loser by nearly everyone around him. Anyone in the movie who isn't overweight is either a mean-spirited jackass or a kind soul that takes pity upon Paul Blart's shortcomings. And because Paul Blart: Mall Cop is a film that goes for the "seemingly hopeless but lovable loser gets the chance to show that he really isn't a hopeless loser" angle, it aims to be an uplifting, family holiday experience. It doesn't accomplish this goal, because it's not funny in the slightest, and there's no heartwarming charm to be found. But even with that said, I didn't have it in me to cast a fiery hatred down upon the movie.
- As a whole, Paul Blart: Mall Cop is completely harmless. There's nothing wildly offensive or controversial about it, because, while it isn't charming or heartwarming in the slightest, it at least goes for that type of approach. Out of all of the crime lords doing work for Happy Madison Productions, Kevin James is the one that comes the closest to having some kind of charisma, which I highly believe stems off of his success with The King of Queens. Here, James is by his lonesome self, with Adam Sandler limited to only producer, and the likes of David Spade and Chris Rock nowhere to be found. We get brief glimpses of Kevin James' charisma, but only brief.
- Yes, the majority of the jokes don't land. What is there for me to say about that?
- The one true anger inducer of Paul Blart: Mall Cop is the fact that it turns into a kid-friendly version of Die Hard. This time, it's "Die Hard in a shopping mall." No, Kevin James does not shoot a machine gun and yell, "Yippie ki yay." It's his lucky day, actually, because Paul Blart happens to find himself up against one of the most incompetent group of criminals around. There's a scene in which two of the thugs chase after Blart, and he decides to hide in one of the store's air ducts. However, he gives his position away when his stomach starts making rumbling sounds. Blart then manages to cause the air duct to fall apart, which knocks out one of the thugs. The other thug runs away. You mean to tell me that one of the thugs got scared off by a collapsing air duct, despite knowing full well that the gang's only threat was right there to stop? Blart is also lucky that once he knocks out each thug, there is no chance of them coming back (Blart does incapacitate each thug in some way after he's taken care of them, but that shouldn't bar them from coming back). They even go so far as to rip off the "John McClaine recovering from his wounds" scene. Instead of ripping up his bare feet by walking on broken glass, Blart steps aside to tend to....a small cut on his arm...with a Hello Kitty band aid. It doesn't matter how watered down it all might be. It's still stealing from Die Hard.
I can confirm that I seriously laughed only one time during the movie. It was early on while Blart is riding his Segway to work. A dog comes running after him, barking at the Segway. This humorous moment is shot dead when we hear the dog supposedly get run over by the Segway. I got a weak smile out of a few other moments, but that's it. So while Paul Blart: Mall Cop is by no means an all-time low for film comedy, its over-reliance on fat guy jokes and its obvious Die Hard copycat plot prevent it from being anything really worth watching. It's a Kevin James-led comedy released by Happy Madison that got released in cinema's absolute favorite month of the year: January. That alone should give you a good idea of what to expect.
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