Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)
Cute but very dumb would be the best way of describing Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which is miraculously one of the highest grossing movies of 2009. Kevin James stars as the titular security man and he proves to be a capable physical comedian, throwing himself into the jokes. It’s too bad that some of these jokes don’t deserve James’ efforts. A group of extreme sport crooks (they ride around on BMX bikes and skateboards like they’d rather be at the X-Games) hold Blart’s mall hostage on Black Friday, and Blart is the only security officer of any kind left on the inside. It’s Die Hard in a mall, but, surprisingly, the movie has some decent jokes when it’s riffing on tired action movie tropes. Some of the comic setups have funny payoffs because they work against audience expectations (like a bottle of hot sauce you know will be key at some point). Mostly, this is a goofy, almost saccharin comedy, with James earnestly playing a man held back from his life’s pursuit by his diabolical blood sugar. The flick is a bit more character-based than most slapstick farces, so I’ll give it that. Blart is a lovable loser who eventually wins respect and the girl of his dreams (Jayma Mays). The film is also more leisurely than an 87-minute comedy should be. The bad guys don’t take over the mall until after 40 minutes in, leaving little room for the comic clashes with Blart. The movie also doesn’t maximize its potential, much like its title figure. This is Blart’s mall, and he has an innate knowledge of it, but he doesn’t use this to turn the tables on his opponents. Paul Blart: Mall Cop has plenty of dead moments but in the end I found the movie to be tolerable thanks to James.
Nate’s Grade: C