“Paul Blart: Mall Cop”
Directed by Steve Carr
Starring Kevin James, Shirley Knight, Raini Rodriguez, Jayma Mays, Keir O'Donnell and Bobby Cannavale
With a title like “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” I wasn’t expecting anything special from Kevin James’ latest comedy. In fact, after seeing the movie’s trailer, I was resigned to an hour and a half of silly gags and milquetoast pratfalls. Sure enough, the film’s first half-hour lived down to my expectations, but to my surprise, once the action part of the story kicked in, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” transformed into a rather enjoyable comic adventure.
Give the credit to funnyman Kevin James, who has based his entire career on making fat jokes at his own expense. “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” starts off with James playing a New Jersey schlub who wants to join the State Police, but he can’t pass the physical examination because he’s too fat, and hypoglycemic to boot. Blart takes a lowly job as a mall security officer. He bemoans his wasted potential until the day he gets a chance to do some real police work when a group of Gen X bandits storm the mall, taking all of the shoppers hostage.
It’s up to Blart to save the day. Think “Die Hard” with ‘lots of fat jokes, and you’ll get the picture.
Or maybe you should think “Rambo,” where our hero fights the bad guys off in an actual Banana Republic. Either way, James makes an appealing, everyman hero, bumbling and stumbling his way to glory. He’s not very good at playing the hero, but he certainly means well, which means that the audience will forgive much of his errant behavior. I’m usually not fond of PG-rated comedies because the filmmakers have to soften their punchlines in order to get the family-friendly rating, but in this instance, the soft humor works in concert with the warm-and-fuzzy nature of the film, providing a nice family movie experience.
To be clear, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” falls into that amusing, but not outright funny category. The characters are simplistic, the storyline is strained, and the humor never really takes off. It’s a shame when you consider that the film’s mall setting should have afforded the filmmakers ample opportunities for inventive gags. Nevertheless, the film works with a gentle effectiveness that should keep you amused. It may not be comic gold, but for once, let’s give a little respect to the “Mall Cop” for a job adequately done.
Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and weekly on KFDM-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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