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Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)

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Score: 6/10

Genre: Slapstick Running Time: 1 hr. 27 min.

Release Date: January 16th, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Steve Carr Actors: Kevin James, Jayma Mays, Keir O’Donnell, Shirley Knight

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lot holes, pointless characters, and wasted opportunities abound in “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.” Yet Kevin James’ blend of fat jokes and hilarious physical comedy deftly masks story shortcomings to leave the viewer with a general sense of comedic satisfaction.  The humor rarely shifts beyond immature gags and the burly comic smashing into things, but for those not expecting supremely intelligent laughs, the film consistently delivers more smiles than grimaces.

Overweight, hypoglycemic, Segway-riding, mustachioed mall cop Paul Blart (Kevin James) dreams of becoming a state trooper. But in the meantime, he dedicates himself to keeping a New Jersey mall safe from belligerent customers and speeding motorized carts.  Craving respect, Blart receives none, especially from his co-workers and many of the outlet employees.  But when the mall is taken over by a violent criminal and his gang of skateboarding mercenaries, Blart must utilize all of his cunning and determination to save the building and rescue the hostages.

Although Paul Blart is moronic beyond standard comedy film reasoning, for a PG-rated film, it works. The loopholes, plot gaps, and bits and pieces that simply make no sense are quickly forgotten when Kevin James takes a cringe-worthy fall. Much of the humor is physical, and James isn’t afraid to make fun of his weight. Slapstick, especially in contemporary comedies, is easily faulty – but watching a fatuous fat man continually embarrass himself by tumbling on the floor rarely grows tiresome. And Kevin James has all but perfected this comedic style.

It’s essentially a rip on “Die Hard,” except that the villain is incomparably pathetic and, of course, the violence is at a minimum. The inclusion of skateboarding thugs and bicycling henchmen (who perform all sorts of extreme indoor stunts) is a huge step in the wrong direction – it adds nothing to the comedy, and feels like the filmmakers were trying entirely too hard to keep things hip. It subsequently makes the film more childish than it is. Immaturity and idiocy are no stranger to “Mall Cop,” but with Kevin James contributing to the script, there’s definitely a saving dosage of his mostly-appealing brand of humor. It’s certainly no masterpiece, but audiences will probably find themselves more amused than they expected.

– The Massie Twins

 



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