Paul Blart: Mall Cop

by Rick Grant
Grade: C / Rated PG / 87 min
Clearly, after viewing this film, Kevin James proves he is funnier than its producer, Adam Sandler. That is not to say that the film rises above the level of a mediocre comedy. However, for his size, James is a great physical comedian who uses his body and the ubiquitous Segway Transporter to best advantage.
The setup is paint-by-numbers filmmaking using a tried and true formula. James plays a rent-a-cop security guard, Paul Blart at a New Jersey mall. He cruises the mall on his trusty Segway scooter. The high tech people-mover becomes part of the script as James uses it like a stunt driver.
Blart aspired to be a regular policeman, but because of his hypoglycemia, he failed the physical exam. Now, he seems resigned to cruising the mall and protecting the shoppers from themselves. Blart takes his job seriously but he is the brunt of jokes from his colleagues in the guard force. He gets beat up by a chubby woman shopper.
As for Blart’s social life? Nada. He lives at home with his mom and daughter who supports her dad’s efforts to do become a real cop. He longs for female companionship. When he spots a beautiful young woman, Amy (Jaya Mays) selling hair extensions at a kiosk, he is smitten. He uses any excuse to chat her up, but he’s still too shy to ask her out. Obviously she likes him and finally he plucks up the courage to ask her to a party and she accepts. Suddenly, Blart is on cloud nine.
The party for the mall employees is at popular bar and Blart feels out of place but finds Amy and sits at her table. As the evening drags on, every guy at the party hits on Amy. Discouraged, Blart takes a bet to out eat another heavy guy with peppers and chips. When the hot peppers burn Blart’s mouth he grabs a drink to put out the fire. But, Blart doesn’t drink alcohol, and gets really drunk and stupid, humiliating himself in front of Amy and his fellow mall workers. Now the chances of Blart dating Amy are zero to none.
Meanwhile, a gang of major criminals is plotting to take over the mall to get the store codes and steal all their money. Blart mends fences with Amy, but she is still put off by his loutish behavior at the party. Serious circumstances are closing in on Blart and the mall.
When the gang takes the mall over, Blart is playing a video game. He doesn’t’ realize anything is wrong. But soon he figures out the mall is under siege and the gang has taken hostages, including Amy and his own daughter. The gang’s leader is one of Blart’s fellow security guards who used his job to case the mall. The SWAT team is outside, itching to go in and take the gang down. But, Blart makes contact with the team as their inside man.
Now Blart has an opportunity to prove that he can take charge and be a real cop. He is driven by his strong motive to rescue Amy and his daughter. Here is where Kevin James earns his pay as a stunt man, rolling around and jumping off balconies in confrontations with the bad guys. He’ll show everyone that he is not just a fat slob but a brave law enforcement inside agent.
Directed by Steve Carr, co-written by Kevin James and Nick Bakay, and produced by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions, this film takes no artistic risks using a proven formula to assure success. The comedy is built around pratfalls, slapstick, and other physical stunts, which replace intelligently written dialogue. But what else would one expect from a collaboration of Kevin James and Adam Sandler? Yep, this film is mass market pulp.