Paul Blart: Mall Cop Steve Carr

Paul Blart: Mall Cop Steve Carr
For a no-brainer comedy from Adam Sandler's Happy Madison Productions, Paul Blart: Mall Cop is shockingly depressing. In the first half hour we learn that Paul Blart (Kevin James) is an overweight, delusional mall security guard whose crippling hypoglycaemia keeps him from attaining his dream job as a state trooper. Everyone he meets casually dismisses him and he can't even get the shoppers he fines for small violations to take him seriously. His immigrant wife left him and their daughter immediately after being granted citizenship, and his online dating profile is generating few hits. By the time a scene where Blart humiliates himself at a party is followed by one where he cries in front of his computer, I became optimistic that the film might enter dark, twisted Observe and Report territory. Blart's delusions of grandeur are further hinted at when the plot takes a playful Die Hard twist, with the deeply incompetent guard remaining in the mall during a hostage crisis to save a co-worker (Jayma Mays) despite the urgings of the police, the SWAT team and his common sense. Ah, but unlike Observe and Report, Paul Blart: Mall Cop essentially remains in safe family comedy territory. Released earlier this year to universally scathing reviews, it became a massive box office success regardless and it's indeed a bit better than its toxic reputation would suggest. The story is about as convincing and engrossing as the average Ernest picture, but the film coasts along pleasantly on the nice guy charm of Kevin James, who also co-wrote and has a keen understanding of how to make his schlubby persona endearing. I like Paul Blart: Mall Cop more than I expected to but at the same time its bland innocuousness made me appreciate Observe and Report just that much more. The surprisingly sparse DVD contains a few unremarkable deleted scenes and a handful of documentaries that look like they were taken straight from the EPK. A chummy commentary by James and producer Todd Garner is more enlightening. "The boob sweat, we were very concerned about trying to make it more real," reveals James. "It doesn't look as real as I'd like it to look." Oh, the compromises for art. (Sony)