DIR: Steve Carr • WRI: Kevin James, Nick Bakay • PRO: Doug Belgrad, Barry Bernardi, Matthew Tolmach, Todd Garner, Jack Giarraputo, Kevin James, Adam Sandler • DOP: Russ T. Alsobrook • ED: Jeff Freeman • DES: Perry Andelin Blake • CAST: Kevin James, Jayma Mays, Keir O’Donnell, Bobby Cannavale
In a genre that has become increasingly synonymous with crudeness, teen sex and vulgarity it is refreshing to come across an expletive-free family comedy in the shape of Paul Blart: Mall Cop. There is just one problem: it’s not really all that funny.
Starring Kevin James (The King of Queens) as a deluded but well meaning New Jersey shopping mall security ‘officer’, it is the story of a perennial loser whose ship finally comes in and all the wacky happenings along the way. Overweight, persistently mocked, suffering from glycaemia, and a deserted husband and father-of-one to boot, life really hasn’t been kind to Blart. However, such is his obscene dedication to his job that it is difficult to feel any sympathy for the man. Initially, he comes across as an absurd, super-sized Fuhrer, with one left wondering how he ever found a wife in the first place. Such delusions is explained away by his failed attempts to join the New Jersey State Troopers, with Blart’s mucking about on a Segway in a suburban shopping mall his only means of acquiring the validation he so clearly desires.
However, his big heart and genuine nature appeal to Amy (Jayma Mays), a kiosk worker in the mall, and before long our cuddly hero is smitten. The action takes place around Thanksgiving and with Black Friday looming – the day after Thanksgiving and the busiest shopping day in the States, apparently – our man is gearing himself up for the big one. An obsession with shopping mall security may not be the healthiest of pastimes but it beats the self-pitying misery that characterises the big guy’s time away from the workplace. Things go from romcom to action-adventure as the shopping mall is overrun by a gang of thugs posing as Santa’s Helpers – the final obstacle between them and their $3m bounty being the not inconsiderable presence of the Mall Cop himself. Much hilarity ensues with no shortage of hi-jinks – think Home Alone meets Mallrats.
This movie is best described as harmless and it is the opinion of this reviewer that harmless and comedy are not the easiest of bedfellows. Indeed, the two best characters are the spineless pen-salesman Stuart (Stephen Rannazzisi) and the grotesque SWAT Commander Kent (Bobby Cannavale) and it is no coincidence that both represent the least endearing human qualities present in the film. Inoffensive and heart warming but light on laughs, this is one that’s sure to stay under the radar.
(Read biog here)
Rated PG (see for details)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop is released on 20th March 2009