Our malls could use more cops like Paul Blart
The idea of a movie about an overzealous, roly-poly mall cop who is particularly skilled on a Segway is not without merit, especially if it’s set for release during the January doldrums. “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” is occasionally funny and heartwarming, mostly silly, and succeeds on the charisma and effort of Kevin James (TV’s “The King of Queens”), who literally puts everything he has into the role.
If sacrificing one’s body for pratfalls counted as acting chops, James might be Oscar worthy. Even Will Ferrell and Jim Carrey have some pretty low level humor films on their resume, and James may not have anything more in his comic arsenal than the lovable tubby on display here (practically the same character he played in “Hitch”), but “Mall Cop” is generally acceptable family fare that the big guy’s fans will enjoy.
The plot is sort of a “Die Hard” for grade-schoolers wherein Blart (James) is the lone hero capable of saving hostages who’ve been sequestered by a group of criminals. The bad guys may lack intelligence, but they demonstrate some pretty cool parkour-level jumping skills.
One of the hostages is a pretty kiosk employee (Jayma Mays, looking a bit young for Blart), whom our protagonist has his eye on. Of course he’s shy, but he also suffers from surprise bouts of narcolepsy caused by a blood sugar disorder which is played for some good laughs. Fortunately he keeps Pixy-Stix candy around just in case.
The film might have been improved if it had focused a little more on Blart’s life away from the mall. He’s a single dad to pre-teen daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez), and he still lives with his Mom (Shirley Knight, “As Good as it Gets”). Some of their scenes together offer a gentle respite from the tomfoolery.
As far as PG-rated comedies go, so far this year with “Bride Wars” its main competition, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” is a tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek force to be reckoned with.
Rated PG for some violence, mild crude and suggestive humor, and language. (There is one fairly lengthy scene of drunken behavior).