Published Jan 19, 2009Home Alone meets Die Hard in Paul Blart: Mall Cop, the latest middle of the road comedy from the boys at Adam Sandler's Madison Productions. The rated-PG laughs won't have you rolling on the floor laughing (or ROFL, as the young folks say), but you will laugh out loud at Kevin James's (The King of Queens, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry) slapstick mishaps.
Single dad Paul Blart's (Kevin James) goal in life is to become a police officer and provide a happy home for his young daughter, Maya (Raini Rodriguez). But, when Blart is unable to graduate from the police academy due to his out of control hypoglycaemia, he must settle for a career as a mall security guard. Shy and awkward, Blart develops an unrequited crush on Amy (Jayma Mays), a fellow mall employee, making a fool of himself whenever the girl of his dreams is within sight. When a gang of criminals take over the mall at gunpoint, Blart must act to foil the bad guys, save his daughter and prove himself worthy of Amy's affection.
Kevin James continues his inoffensive working class comedy style with Blart, never pushing the comedic boundaries necessary to make Mall Cop stand out from other goofball comedies, but his endearing good nature and straightforward gags do provide consistent, low impact laughs. It's actually astonishing how much funny material James manages to wring out of riding a Segway scooter, never letting the gag get old, hinting at a knack for slapstick comedy that never fully emerges in this performance.
Like many Happy-Maddison Productions (Grandma's Boy, You Don't Mess with the Zohan), logical storytelling takes a back seat to humorous scenarios, resulting in a plot that doesn't stand up to any amount of narrative scrutiny. The semi-nonsense plot is great if you just want to turn off your brain and watch a fat guy get hurt for 90 minutes but, in the post-Judd Apatow (Pineapple Express, Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin) comedy culture, people are beginning to expect a little more from their comedy than a bunch of zany sight gags and silly situations. James does toy with some depth to his character, but the gags win out and no real emotional connection is established between the audience and Blart.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop is like the comfort food of comedy: simple and satisfying but best experienced while wearing pyjamas. (Sony)