15 May 2009

Movie Review: Paul Blart Mall Cop


C

Paul Blart Mall Cop
2009, 91mins, PG
Director: Steve Carr
Writer (s): Nick Bakay,Kevin James
Cast includes: Kevin James, Jayma Mays, Keir O'Donnell, Raini Rodriguez, Shirley Knight, Peter Gerety
Release Date: 16th January 2009

A mighty success upon release earlier this year, “Paul Blart Mall Cop” is an insanely average comedy made slightly more appetizing thanks to a well staged central performance, Kevin James taking the title role is in truth the only genuinely worthwhile asset the picture has to offer. There are a few decent laughs within the 91 minutes it devours but “Paul Blart Mall Cop” is going to seem painfully obvious in places to folks who have seen more than half a dozen broad slapstick comedies.

Paul Blart (Kevin James) is a hardworking guy and a dutiful Dad, who dreams of becoming a state trooper. Problem is that Paul suffers from intense hypoglycemia and thus can never make it the full way through the police initiation test, meaning he has to spend his days walking the mall cop beat. He treats the job with a degree of seriousness and dedication unparalleled in his lazy colleagues, and when not handing out inner Mall citations he’s fawning over shop girl Amy (Jayma Mays) but like everyone else she underestimates him. That all changes when a group of super athletic criminals take over the mall in the hope of a big cash haul, with hostages trapped in the interior and the various strands of law enforcement bickering on the outside. However Paul is still left in the Mall and so uses this as his chance to show his real grit and determination to all those who assumed he was just another loser. Using his knowledge of the complex and some rather unorthodox methods, Paul proceeds to try and best the bad guys, whilst keeping the captured alive.

Kevin James is excellent in “Paul Blart Mall Cop”, in truth the stocky comedian might be the only above average feature the picture boats. Combining his ability for slapstick with an empathetic goofiness James keeps the audience rooting for him and delivers the majority of the big laughs in the process. Supporting players consistently fail to show flair or anything approaching the raw comic energy of the lead, Jayma Mays is a flat romantic link whilst as thief chief bad guy Keir O’Donnell is neither imposing nor funny. This is James vehicle all the way; the bland performances surrounding him simply further compounding that fact.

In terms of sourcing its laughter the movie seems happy to simply spoof “Die Hard” and roll out the obesity jokes, hardly rich and untapped fountains of comedy. The film offers some laughs mostly courtesy of the hard working lead man, but the screenplay is ultimately pedestrian and Steve Carr’s direction about as ordinary as anyone can logically conceive. There is an affable sense of pleasantry around the whole thing, its constant determination to conform to mediocrity not propelled by its desire to forgo all comedic artistry at the expense of cash grabbing smirks and woeful gags. No “Paul Blart Mall Cop” means well, it’s just had the misfortune to be made by a selection of people not particularly good at what they do. James is the exception as the bumbling title character, but everything about “Paul Blart Mall Cop” reeks of the cinematic norm.



A review by Daniel Kelly, 2009

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