- Rated PG
- Buy the BD
All photos © Sony Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
t’s too early to say for sure, but “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” might just be the worst film of 2009. Normally, that honor would be reserved for the latest cinematic disaster from spoof rejects Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, but since they don’t have a new movie coming out this year, it’s almost a guarantee that Kevin James’ solo debut will fill that void. Fans of the comic may be disappointed to learn that "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" is one of the most painfully unfunny comedies in recent years, but are you really surprised? It’s produced by Happy Madison and directed by the same man responsible for “Dr. Doolittle 2" and “Daddy Day Care." In other words, it was kind of expected to suck.
The former “King of Queens” star plays the titular character, a five-time police academy flunky with a tendency of passing out due to hypoglycemia. Since he can’t make it as a real cop, Blart works at the local shopping mall as a security guard where he spends his days buzzing around on a Segway, getting into fights with unruly shoppers, and handing out speeding tickets to elderly customers on scooters. In short, he takes his job way too seriously. But when a group of extreme sports-loving criminals invade the mall and take his new crush, Amy (Jayma Mays), and daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez) hostage, Blart jumps into action to save the day.
Unfortunately, it takes far too long before any of this happens. The entire first act is comprised of Kevin James running into stuff and being made fun of for his weight, while the actual robbery is so ludicrous that it never gets the chance to be funny. And how could you take any of it seriously when the crooks are named after Santa Claus’ nine reindeer? It might sound dreadful on paper, but it’s even worse on film – to the point that when their fearless leader calls out for Prancer, you’ll roll your eyes so hard that they might get stuck in the back of your head. This is truly lame stuff, and though it may seem like a consolation that the movie is only 91 minutes long, even that feels like an eternity when you’re dealing with such a minimal plot.
“Paul Blart: Mall Cop” is obviously supposed to be the comedic version of “Die Hard,” but what James and fellow co-writer Nick Bakay fail to realize is that the concept would have worked better as a sketch on “SNL” than as a full-length feature. Then again, even that wouldn’t be very funny, though that has less to do with the format than the writing. Kevin James has proven in the past that he can make people laugh, but there’s nothing about his latest film that would indicate he’s even mildly talented. “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” is “Code Name: The Cleaner” bad, and if there’s a worse film this year, you probably wouldn't know it after seeing this.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
Following in the tradition of past Happy Madison films, the Blu-ray release of “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” is loaded with special features including an audio commentary with Kevin James and producer Todd Garner, deleted scenes, and a series of mini-featurettes. Though most don’t run longer than five minutes, the featurettes – which range from actor profiles to behind-the-scenes antics – are actually a lot of fun. The ones featuring the film’s cast of extreme sports vets are the highlights of the disc (like the 10-minute stunt featurette or Mike Escamilla’s on-set video diary), but the best of the bunch is “Sugar,” a short film starring free runner Victor Lopez.