January 5, 2009 by  

Paul Blart: Mall Cop


Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Kevin James is a bumbling security guard in "Paul Blart: Mall Cop."

Starring: Kevin James, Keir O’Donnell, Jayma Mays
Directed by: Steve Carr (“Are We Done Yet?”)
Written by: Kevin James (debut) and Nick Bakay (TV’s “In Living Color”)

As a physical comedian, Kevin James will never reach the level of someone like the late Chris Farley or Jerry Lewis, but if you’ve seen his TV show “The King of Queens,” there are some instances when James can toss himself around with the best of them.

But in his new film “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” the teddy-bear-of-an-actor can’t carry an entire production even on his broad shoulders. Plus, smashing his face into as many things as humanly possible doesn’t really constitute as entertainment unless you’re searching the phrase “epic fail” on YouTube or watching a “Three Stooges” marathon. (Farrelly Brothers, take note. Could James be your Curly?)

In “Mall Cop,” James plays title character Paul Blart (yes, it rhymes with fart, how amusing), a New Jersey security officer who settles for protecting the local mall after he fails to pass physical training to become a state trooper. It’s not that Blart is incapable of getting past the tires and ropes of the obstacle course (he’s fairly limber for a man of his girth), but his hypoglycemia makes him pass out if he’s not gnawing on a Snickers bar every 15 minutes.

Blart’s ability as a security guard is tested when a gang of ninja-like X-gamer thieves infiltrate the mall on Black Friday and take a small group hostage inside the mall’s bank. The hostages include Amy (Jayma Mays), a cute kiosk girl Blart is crushing on, and Blart’s biracial daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez), whose mother abandoned her after she used Paul to get a green card.

With only his Segway and his intuition to guide him (“The mind is the only weapon that doesn’t need a holster,” he says), Blart is the lone, er, law enforcement with eyes on the inside that can stop the criminals from getting away with their tactless plan.

Directed by Steve Carr (“Are We Done Yet?,” “Daddy Day Care”), “Blart” begins and ends with a foolish script penned by James and TV writer Nick Bakay. Most of the jokes run longer than they should while others fall flat on delivery. We get that Blart is supposed to be this lovable moron who can’t get a break in life, but he comes off as more annoying and pitiful than he should.

Sure, fat can be funny if the story falls into place, but with “Mall Cop” scenarios and storylines get way too ridiculous and James as a bumbling chubster plays out juvenile at best.

Grade: D

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