Paul Blart; Movie Cop
Release Date: January 16, 2009
Cast: Kevin James, Jayma Mays, Jayma Mays
By Sean Chavel
If there was one movie I wasn't looking forward to it was "Paul Blart : Mall Cop "which appears in ads as a movie that "Deuce Bigalow" spit out. Although it shouldn't be mistaken for “quality” the shocking revelation is that it is not a bad experience at the movies. This is owed to Kevin James, the star of the movie, who makes the art of slapstick look appealing again. He's clumsy, he's goofy, but as the title character he takes his job very seriously which is an asset to this comedy.
“Mall Cop” is really two movies in one. The first movie is about Blart as a dorky and ineffectual patroller who travels the super indoor mall on a segway – one of those two-wheeled standing room only electric vehicles. Blart is a lonely single dad, a failed applicant at the police academy, and basically a putz . Like a bad but guilty pleasure '80s movie, Blart is hopelessly in love with a counter sales clerk named Amy (Jayma Mays, “Red Eye”) who tosses her beautiful locks around like a glamorous shampoo commercial.
Their encounters succumb to a new low in awkwardness. Blart overreaches in his humor, he verbally stumbles, he makes his crush on her way too apparent. At a restaurant bar where mall employees go for an after-work party, Blart – who doesn't touch alcohol – accidentally downs a spiked beverage. As this drunk stumbling buffoon, Blart makes lofty pronouncements, he inundates his love for Amy, he picks at people's faces, and he participates in a karaoke performance that ends in unlikely destruction.
In one of the weirdest reasons I have ever almost recommended a movie, I was covering my eyes through most of this. Not in due of fear for Blart's safety, but because the comedy was so unbelievably lame. I'm always looking for a new experience at the movies, something that provokes a reaction unlike anything I've had. And here's this reason that I was enjoying myself because I covered my eyes more often during these scenes than during any hardcore horror movie I've seen in the last decade. Perhaps out of embarrassment verging on shame, I couldn't believe I was watching Blart the-lamest-guy-on-the-planet crashing and burning with his social awkwardness. Especially during his ham-and-cheese encounters with Amy, the pretty girl who's way too forgiving of this nincompoop.
Unfortunately, the second movie involved here is a tepid hostage-and-thieves action fantasy. The dumb band of crooks hold off a combat-ready S.W.A.T. team while holding six or seven hostages – Amy and Blart's daughter included – inside a vault holding cell. Only one man can come to the rescue and he's not John McClane . Blart crashes through every store window imaginable, and outruns the skateboarding thieves on his segway , in a series of ho-hum sight gags. This might have all worked had the action hi-jinks not taken up the bulk of the movie. And it doesn't help that the leader is a colorless villain (Keir O'Donnell) who is a shopworn story creation. A zanier actor, say, Crispin Glover, might have done wonders with the role.
Having lost its mojo , I can't recommend the movie as a whole. I do think that kids will like the entire movie, especially the youngsters that haven't had a lot of experience with hostage flicks. For the older crowd, expect mixed results. I imagine that I myself will actually watch the first half of the movie again with pleasure once it hits cable before channel surfing once it goes into transition into the second half. Certainly, that first movie featuring Kevin James making a willing embarrassment out of himself is worth seeing. With your hands covered over your eyes. Get ready to scream, “No! Nobody on the planet is that lame!” In a word, Wow. Once again, it's really too bad that the second half of the movie will put you on snooze alert.