Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Distributed By: Sony Pictures

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            When I first saw previews for Paul Blart: Mall Cop, I just shook my head.  Here was a movie about what is known in most circles as a Flashlight Cop – a security guard in a mall who takes his job so seriously that he often believes himself equal to a police officer on the beat.  I knew the movie could be a somewhat realistic comedy, because I actually knew guys like Paul Blart.  But, I figured this movie would probably fit in the Super Troopers category – stupidly funny – and so I had made up my mind not to see it…until it became such a surprise box office hit, that is.

            The movie stars comedian/actor Kevin James as Paul Blart, a man who has made numerous attempts to join the New Jersey police force, but has been held back by hypoglycemia , a medical condition that causes him to pass out when his blood sugar gets too low.  Failing to become a cop, Paul Blart settles for what he views as the next best thing – protecting mall patrons as the ultimate security guard at the West Orange Pavilion Mall.  Paul takes his job very seriously, much to the chagrin of his co-workers.

            In the meantime, Paul’s love life has gone by the wayside and his mother and daughter push him toward taking a chance at love.  They enroll him at a matchmaking website in an effort to introduce Paul back into the dating scene.  Unbeknownst to them, Paul only has eyes for Amy (Jayma Mays), a kiosk owner.  He decides to take a chance at wooing her, despite a co-worker’s assertion that she is well out of his league.  Although Amy seems attracted to Paul, he has his reservations as to whether they could actually formulate a relationship.

            Unlucky in life and unlucky in love, Paul takes time out at an arcade shop in the mall to give himself a boost in spirits on the busiest day of the year – Black Friday.  Of course, this would be just the right time for a game of X-game-loving criminals to take over the mall.  Their plan is to extort 30 million dollars from the mall by stealing the codes to all of the mall’s credit card machines.  They empty the mall of its patrons with the exception of a select few still in the bank, Amy among them. 

            By the time Paul realizes that something is amiss at the mall, the gang is already hard at work retrieving codes and the mall is surrounded by the local police.  Realizing that Amy is still in the mall and feeling it is still his job to protect the remaining patrons, Paul begins a hilarious one-man crusade to capture the criminals and save the day.

            The fact that Paul Blart: Mall Cop became a box office hit is no surprise.  In these economic times when people are thoroughly stressed out about their job situations and the growing economic crisis, laughter is the best medicine.  In an economic crisis, many people don’t want to think too hard about the movie they’re watching.  After all, aren’t they thinking hard enough already about their bills, their jobs, etc.  What they need is some slapstick comedy with blue collar worker makes good attitude and Happy Madison Productions is more than happy to accommodate us.

            I have always loved Kevin James’ comedy, whether he is performing stand-up comedy or starring in his own sitcom (King of Queens).  I knew he would have no problem doing slapstick.  On King of Queens, Kevin James’ character takes his job as a delivery man very seriously, so I knew he could do the mall cop thing very well.  So, it came as no surprise to me that he would be perfectly cast as Paul Blart in this film.  There are some funny characters in this film - like Pahud, the stalking, ultra-jealous boyfriend of the daughter of one of Paul’s friends – but the character of Paul Blart overshadows them and Kevin James is absolutely the only person I can see portraying him so well.

            Fans of the ever-popular Bobby Cannavale will be surprised to see him in a significant role in this film as a SWAT team commander with a secret.  Keir O’Donnell is excellent as the criminal gang’s leader and manages to show two very different sides to his acting.  He portrays a bored and rather lazy bumbler at the very beginning of the movie who eventually reveals himself to be a calculating, crazed villain.  Jayma Mays is enjoyable as Amy, the object of Paul’s affection.  Stephen Rannazzisi is absolutely hateful as Paul’s egotistical, male chauvinistic rival.

            The music in this film is a virtual ‘80’s cornucopia, featuring songs by REO Speedwagon , KISS, Bon Jovi, Survivor and more.  And yes, you will definitely find yourself singing along.

            I found this movie to be hilarious and just what the doctor ordered in these stressful times.  Yes, this film pokes fun at mall security everywhere, but there is more to it than that.  This is a movie about a man with dedication to his job and a kind heart.  Paul Blart doesn’t see what he does as a go-nowhere job – he sees it as an opportunity to prove his value as an employee and a human being.  To him, it isn’t the money that’s important, but the effort he puts forth in doing his job.  Of course, it is all very funny, but in the end, we love Paul Blart for the person he is and we find ourselves rooting for that flashlight cop to succeed.

            Need a laugh?  Paul Blart: Mall Cop – I’ll say it again – JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED!


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