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Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Another Loser Saves the Day

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

Kevin James is a polarizing comedian. He had a very successful (at least in terms of longevity) TV show, "The King of Queens", and managed to find his way into the Happy Madison production team helmed by comedic legend Adam Sandler via I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Despite this role, he’s never really found a solid audience the way that Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell have. He makes his film debut as a leading actor with Paul Blart: Mall Cop and it’s the typical low brow, fat humor you’d expect despite its few genuine moments.

The title of the film says it all, really. Kevin James plays Paul Blart, a mall cop who, in keeping with classic film clichés, wants desperately to be a real police officer. Unfortunately, Paul has hypoglycemia that causes him to pass out if he doesn’t consume some sort of sugar product on a regular basis. Immediately the film gives us an ongoing fat joke, which is something that Kevin James routinely relies on. And while he can actually be quite clever with such a cliché, in this case it falls flat and feels forced.

Besides Paul’s inability to achieve his professional goal in life, he also is a single father living with his mother and daughter who both push him to start dating again. Of course, it’s hard for Paul to meet women because along with his obvious “weight issue” as he says, he is overly serious about his mall cop position. He’s the guy everyone picks on because of the self-importance he puts on such a meaningless and inane job. But as any film watcher knows, this only gives him true heart and conviction, two qualities that make heroes.

A girl does finally catch Paul’s eye and as he tries to woo her, the mall is suddenly taken placed under siege and hostages are taken, including Amy, his newfound love. Paul is distracted during the take over, playing a rousing rendition of KISS’ “Detroit Rock City” on Guitar Hero and is suddenly the only one wandering the mall besides the criminals. However, once Paul learns that Amy is one of the hostages he decides to remain inside the mall, much to the chagrin of the Police Chief, in order to save her and the mall.

After this development, the film is pretty straightforward. Soon the bad guys learn he’s in the mall and he’s caught in a war as he attempts to save the day. He gets hit, but they get hit harder. It’s a classic story and James is a genuinely funny guy (check out his stand up for confirmation) but he’s given terrible material to work with. Every cliché is strongly adhered to and for a film that rests on its plot, the story is full of holes. There’s the classic “shocking” turn of events that comes out of nowhere and makes little sense other than destroying an already lackluster film.

Still, the film does offer few glimpses of James’ personal brand of humor that has gotten to where he is and while it may not be as intellectual as Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen or as ingeniously ridiculous as cohort Adam Sandler, he does have a few tricks up his sleeve.