Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Posted January 20, 2009 in Film

There are at least four ways Paul Blart could have been dreck: the premise (and presence of producer Adam Sandler) warns of criminal amounts of mugging, fifth-grade gags, disregard, and general disorientation. That it avoids them all doesn’t make it a comedy classic, but it’s a good way to kill 90 minutes at the mall. Kevin James of the disastrous I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry stars as the titular shopping mall savior, and with Nick Bakay has penned a script that’s short on original ideas but long on an inexorable sincerity that wins over the audience by the closing credits. Paul Blart has invented the mash-up film: it’s one half Marty, one half Die Hard. The startling switch from an empathetic sad sack portrait of an unloved single dad (inspired casting of Raini Rodriguez as his daughter by a green card schemer) crushing on a wide-eyed hair extension kiosk salesgirl (Jayma Mays) to an action flick about a mall hostage crisis doesn’t jell. Big whoop. This isn’t brain surgery; this is daffy entertainment that plays to its strengths, with director Steve Carr trusting in James’ deadpan earnesty and humble physicality to balance out, say, making all the bad guys MTV-hot extreme sporters and parkour champs. The audience rarely laughed, but at the climax, they burst into applause. (Amy Nicholson)



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