Kevin’s pain your gain
Even though its predecessor broke box office records for a January release back in 2009, no one over 10 years old was craving a sequel to “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.” Come to think of it, a nine-year-old back then is 15 today, so it’s likely a kid that age probably isn’t going to admit wanting a second installment either. (These films are not exactly cool.) But parents who want something silly and basically inoffensive to see with their kids will tolerate another 90 minutes of actor Kevin James’ endless pratfalls.
At the risk of destroying any shred of credibility left in my movie critic mojo, this review is going to give some props to “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.” Though it isn’t consistently as creative or humorous as its predecessor, it does feature the most important ingredient: Kevin James.
James, the former small college football fullback and community theater actor turns 50 this weekend, and at 5’ 8” and 285 pounds probably subjects himself to more pain while performing his own stunts than any actor in recent memory. “Mall Cop 2” relies on his physicality almost exclusively, with a fairly weak plot about an art heist in Las Vegas that was likely written on the tissue paper wrapped around one of James’ Krispy Kreme doughnuts. (Like the first film, James co-wrote the screenplay along with Nick Bakay.) In other words, plot isn’t the point here. (To be fair, the first “Mall Cop” had a fun “Die-Hard”-themed story.)
But there is plenty of James’ character Paul Blart scooting around, impressively, on the nerdiest of Segways while bouncing off of glass doors and wrestling with a CGI peacock. If this isn’t your sort of humor that can be understood, but it should be mentioned that there is a reason that Buster Keaton and The Three Stooges are revered in some high-brow circles. And James certainly can’t be faulted for a lack of effort—there is no stunt he isn’t willing to try. Compare that dedication to his friend and producer Adam Sandler, who sometimes looks like he’s literally sleepwalking through his own movies.
Raini Rodriguez returns as Blart’s clever daughter who is trying to grow up, and Neal McDonough plays the bad guy with two different colored pupils. While the ensemble here isn’t nearly as interesting as the first time around, this sequel is set in, and for all intents and purposes serves as a commercial for, the beautiful Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, which acts as a host of the security cop convention that Blart is attending. Security cops are an easy target for comedy, and the film provokes a few chuckles at their expense.
“Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” is by no means a great movie, and it isn’t likely to approach the box-office success of the first film. But when it hits Redbox, it will likely be one of the few live action PG comedies available. It doesn’t break new ground in any way, but it relishes Kevin James hitting it for our pleasure as many times as he can—and sometimes that’s enough.