Sigh. Asking your fans for movie suggestions is both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes you get hidden gems, like The Lunchbox (2013). But then you have friends who, as they say in the British Isles, like to “take the piss,” and they want you to look at films like Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009). I spent my whole life up until recently avoiding it. I guess it was bound to catch up with me at some point. For those of you who put this on my list, I hope you find more entertainment from my review than I did from the movie.
The first thing that struck me about Paul Blart: Mall Cop was that it was going to be an hour and a half of using fat shaming for comedy. I am sure those who made it would want you to see it as physical comedy. However you view it, it is utilized at the outset to take . . . uh, full advantage? . . . of Kevin James’ (who plays the title character) . . . er . . . I guess I will go with gifts. He is trying to pass the physical portion of the New Jersey State Police exam, which is going swimmingly until we get another overweight gag. It has nothing to do with his agility. Instead, just before he crosses the finish line his hypoglycemia knocks him down and he falls asleep. The solution for this, repeated ad literal nauseam throughout the film, is to load up on the sugar. Donuts. Ice Cream. Candy bars. A dirty lollipop he finds on the ground, but that is getting ahead of myself. Not getting into the state police, he goes back to his job as a security guard at the West Orange Pavilion Mall, and this is where the other humor(?) comes in. Paul Blart takes his job way too seriously, and he is apparently alone in this attitude. I guess this would be funny if it were not actually true in real life, but I digress. As he makes the rounds among the throngs of shoppers, Amy Anderson (Jayma Mays) catches his stalker-ish attention. I describe it as such because it takes him several painful minutes of him creepily staring at her on security cameras and from other hidden locations before he musters up the courage to talk to her. In spite of this odd behavior, she invites him along to a local bar and grille (think Applebee’s, which makes this film even worse) where a group of the mall employees are meeting up for a night of revelry. Fat joke alert: in the midst of a nacho eating contest with another large man, he accidentally chugs alcohol. Given his condition, this makes him act like a tiresome buffoon. The next day, Black Friday, he attempts to explain to Amy how this happened, but frustratingly does not apologize for his boorish behavior. This is also the day that Veck Simms (Keir O’Donnell), junior security guard, hatches his plot to steal money from every store in the shopping center. And, hahaha, while everyone is running screaming for the exits, Paul is playing Guitar Hero in the arcade. Hence, aside from from some hostages taken by Veck and his henchmen (Amy among those being held), Paul is the only one left inside the mall. Even though there are police and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams surrounding them, he takes it upon himself to save the day. What ensues is a Scooby Doo-esque set of chases between the segway riding Paul, and the extreme sport enthusiast criminals as they duck into store after store. Eventually, Paul is able to use his “superior” knowledge to the building’s layout to dispatch the would be robbers one-by-one until only Veck is left, though in addition to having Amy he also has Paul’s daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez) as a captive. Veck manages to escape with these two, fleeing to a nearby airport. Of course, Paul and the rest of the West Orange police department catch up with Veck and the day is saved. Hooray.
I sat through Paul Blart: Mall Cop, chin in my hand, not laughing. To be fair, it is not a brand of comedy aimed at me, though I do not know who is the attended audience. Ferrets addicted to crack, maybe? Is that too harsh to rodents who struggle with addictions? But speaking of not treating people with special needs with the dignity they deserve (which is why I went with ferrets), I found it slightly disturbing how they handled Paul’s hypoglycemia. I will not go into the sin of gluttony and how that can contribute to the development of such conditions, although Paul does not seem above overindulging at times. What I did not like is how they made light of not only his need for sugar, but also his weight. I guess it was around this time that Hollywood began moving away from making fun of such people. But either way, it is still kind of shocking to see how this situation is handled. Even though this is a light-hearted movie, there is enough of a ridiculing tone to make it slightly uncomfortable to watch, for this reviewer. God loves us all, no matter your waste size.
If you want to watch Paul Blart: Mall Cop, go ahead. Unlike Paul himself, never does the film take itself too seriously, and he is a good dad. And if you like physical comedy, then perhaps you will get something out of this movie. As for me, a character crashing through windows, getting bashed in the head, and falling from dangerous heights over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again is . . . just . . . not . . . funny. It is a one-trick pony of a movie, but thankfully I will be reviewing its sequel next!