Paul Blart: Mall Cop (***)

Posted on January 20th, 2009 in Movie Reviews by EngineerBoy
Not-Lean, Not-Mean, Protecting Machine

Not-Lean, Not-Mean, Protecting Machine

I was in the mood to watch a movie this weekend, but nothing at any of the nearby theaters was really grabbing at me.  I’d seen the ads for Paul Blart: Mall Cop and chuckled a bit, and I think Kevin James is a naturally funny guy, so I figured I’d give it a shot even though it looked like it might be a throwaway.  I’m glad I did.

This film is almost exactly what you’d expect – Paul Blart is a mall cop, he’s a loveable loser, he takes his job much more seriously than is called for, and when trouble invades the mall he has a chance to redeem himself and become the hero.  Think of it as a comedic homage to Die Hard, set in a New Jersey mall, only the cop (uh, make that security officer)  doesn’t have a gun and the bad guys ride skateboards and bikes.

You see, Paul Blart dreams of joining the New Jersey State Police.  He’s a big guy, but he’s in shape, he’s not dumb, and the only reason he can’t qualify is that his hypoglycemia causes him to fall asleep at random times.  So he takes all of his drive to protect and serve and uses it in his job as a mall cop.

In his home life he’s trying his best to raise a daughter as a single dad, and his daughter and his mother provide moral support for his career and aspirations.  His fellow security guards are mostly just clock punchers who don’t take their work nearly as seriously as Paul.  Then, on Black Friday, a group of thieves take over the mall hoping to make a big score, and Paul gets trapped inside as the only peace officer that can help free the hostages and catch the bad guys.

Let’s just say that action and comedy ensue from there.  There is very little violence, and no cursing, bloodshed, or nudity/sexuality to speak of, other than the surprisingly genuine spark between Paul Blart and kiosk-worker Amy (played by the perky Jayma Mays).  And the good news is that all of the funny bits are not revealed in the trailer.

And that’s the key – Paul Blart: Mall Cop is FUNNY and the story is reasonably engaging for a comedy like this.  When the movie finished, my packed theater erupted into spontaneous applause.  Kevin James embodies his role with a perfect combination of gusto, machismo, earnestness, dopiness, and heroism. 

And, man, can he ride a Segway.

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