Thursday, January 22, 2009

Paul Blart: Mall Cop (*)

Paul Blart: Mall Cop.  88 mins.  PG.  Directed by Steve Carr.  Written by Kevin James & Nick Bakay.  Starring Kevin James, Jayma Hays, Keir O'Donnell, Bobby Cannavale, and Shirley Knight.

America must be on drugs.  How else to explain why a movie like Paul Blart: Mall Cop can make some $39 million over the course of the long MLK holiday weekend?  Paul Blart is Kevin James' attempt at leading man status, and though he's got a lot of potential and is very likeable on screen, this movie (despite his hand in writing it) is not a worthy use of his talent.  Given the right material, he could easily be the next John Candy.  Paul Blart: Mall Cop finds two things extremely funny: mall cops and segways.  The "laughs" in the movie break down as follows: 50% segway jokes, 25% fat guy jokes, and 25% physical gags where James falls down or runs into things.  The movie is split rather unevenly into two parts: the first part is a dopey sitcom pilot about a mall cop, the second is a ham-fisted spin on Die Hard, where terrorists take over the mall on Black Friday, and it's up to Blart to stop them.  The script doesn't really lend itself to either of the following ideas, but there are only two ways this movie could have worked: (1) approach the concept like Hot Fuzz, and shoot it just like a Michael Bay or Tony Scott movie - poking fun at how ridiculous it is to have an action movie about a mall cop; or (2) go all the way and do a faithful, Spaceballs-type parody of Die Hard set in a mall.  This is just another in a long line of film comedies that start out with a title and work from there (hello, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo!).  All that being said, if you love segways and think they're the funniest thing on the planet, by all means, get yourself to the theater pronto.  You're going to love this movie.  And I'm going to deny ever knowing you. 



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