This movie has more fat jokes than a mall has kiosks.
Director: Steve Carr
Notable Cast:Kevin James, Keir O’Donnell, Jayma Mays, Raini Rodriguez, Shirley Knight, Stephen Rannazzisi
At this juncture Kevin James is likely the only person left who finds his obesity hilarious. A quick look back at his credits shows that he has been riding the same jokes to the bank for over a decade now. The tragedy is that James would be so much funnier and thus making films such as Paul Blart: Mall Cop more than a mere pile of fat (and let’s not forget incompetent) jokes.
James plays the lifelong underachiever with plenty of expertise as it obviously takes one to know one. Apparently satisfied with his own mediocrity, Paul’s true life goal appears to be eating himself to an early grave. One has to hand it to him though as he takes seriously the one thing he is capable of doing: eating, sorry being a mall security officer. Lost somewhere in there is the fact that Paul seems to be a decent father but that plot must be sitting mostly on the cutting room floor.
Anyway, on Black Friday things at the West Orange Mall seem to be business as usual with Paul ineffectively watching over some of the most insensitive shoppers this side of an episode of “King of Queens”. That is until the mall is taken over by extreme terrorists. Extreme as in they like to skateboard, ride BMX bikes, and freestyle walk; basically stuff that makes Paul, on his Segway, look fat and silly by comparison.
Au contraire, Paul Blart is a regular John McClane when his mall, and love interest, is in danger. As the eyes on the inside Paul shows all the real cops outside just what he is capable of by thwarting the baddies even though the odds are heavily against him. All the while the film never misses an opportunity to remind viewers that James is indeed fat.
It is difficult not to harp on James for being a one-trick pony since he basically gives himself a handicap right from the start. He is a likable comedian and in spite of his affinity for fat jokes, and the movie’s stupid concept and unimaginative title, he is still somehow able to make Paul Blart: Mall Cop watchable and at times even enjoyable. But audiences should not have to work so hard to find the fun in a comedy.
In the end there are just too many hurdles (many self-imposed) for James and company to overcome. Of course if we all set the bar as low as Paul we wouldn’t mind being served so many empty calories.
FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):