What can one say about a movie like Paul Blart Mall Cop? For starters, it certainly delivers exactly what I felt was promised from the trailers. An absurd story about a security guard that’s wound a little too tight. A guy getting a girl that in real life he probably wouldn’t get (sad but true). And last but not least Kevin James not being funny.
I don’t really want to shoot down a movie that’s really at it’s heart trying to get across a good point. But this was terrible. Seriously, during the 90 minute marathon of viewing I didn’t laugh once, though I did actually squirm uncomfortably twice. You know the squirm I mean, the one that you got watching The Office when Michael Scott decided to kiss the gay guy to prove how “unhomophobic” he was. Yep, just like that. Watching the Office though, I know I’ll probably be laughing in a minute or two even if I’m just squirming right now.
Paul Blart is a man who is shown at the beginning of the film to be surprisingly athletic despite his size, eating habits, lack of exercise, inexperience doing anything physical, complacence towards life, vaccuum of ambition and hypoglycemia. Strangely though it’s only the last thing that keeps him from passing the NJ State Police Officer physical. Paul Blart is a man who has a disease that is at best made worse by his poor life decisions and we manage to turn them into the primary running joke of the film. His hypoglycemia keeps him from accomplishing his goals in life and yet I think it was supposed to be funny that he decided to eat two pieces of pie topped with peanut butter directly after suffering a major life defeat (again) because of it.
So after his life numbing defeat Paul goes to work like normal riding his segway, which is I suspect also not helping the whole bad habits issue. On the job he awkwardly meets a woman who works at a store called “Unbe-weave-able” which I have to admit actually made me smirk. He begins training a new guy Veck and is promptly humiliated twice, for reasons that he probably deserved to be honest. The slapstick situations which bring about Paul Blarts humiliation though aren’t funny. They’re sad and just too far over ridiculous to be entertaining.
As the trailer foretells the mall where Paul Blart works is eventually taken over by terribly athletic yet apparently incompetent robbers who have a clever idea that has something to do with credit card machines or something. There’s lots of jumping about as the bank robbers were actually on loan for the film from the Cirque du Solei: XGames show. They do fancy tricks and Paul Blart miraculously manages to best them through either dumb luck or .. well no, just through dumb luck.
In the end, Paul Blart gets the girls, saves the mall and they even managed to squeeze in the besting of an old high school rival. I’m sorry if that was too much of a spoiler for you. But if you didn’t realize that about the movie yet, you might just find yourself enjoying this movie.
The heart of the movie isn’t without merit but the heart is lost in bad execution. There were moments when I enjoyed the idea of a guy like Kevin James being so ok with who he was despite a myriad of problems. But no sooner did the character start to work for me than the movie degraded into badly done cheap laughs. There were these understated moments that worked, but as I think Kevin James simply doesn’t have it in him to be low key for long the movie takes a wrong move towards being over the top.
I sense that with 15 minutes more work this movie could have actually crossed that line to watchable. But as is, it’s about on par with the Love Guru.
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