Paul Blart: Mall Cop Review
Paul Blart is a fairly typical male, mid 40s, single father living with his mother and daughter. He takes few risks in his personal life but throws himself into his work as a Mall Cop, taking what his co-workers deem to be a menial job far more seriously than they do. Combined with his weight and the fact he’s hyperglycaemic (which – for the purpose of the film - means he must regularly intake sugar or he might just fall asleep on the spot) Paul is the brunt of many a joke, but he takes it with good humour and continues to work toward his dream of passing the state trooper’s test.
Things change however when he meets Amy, a new girl in the Mall who makes his heart flutter. Combined with encouragement from his family and the general receptiveness Amy shows toward Paul, he goes for it, finds himself out of his comfort zone on a night out and ends up putting his foot in his mouth. The next day, while rocking out to Detroit Rock City on Rock Band in the Mall’s arcade games centre, Paul is oblivious to the robbers that enter the Mall, clearing it of all but six customers. With his beloved Amy now a hostage Paul decides to stay in the Mall and take on the robbers, taking Paul Blart: Mall Cop from a rom-com setup into a Die Hard style second half that has Paul picking off the robbers one by one using only his Segway personal transporter and whatever he can lay his hands on, obtaining the codes each one is meant to report back to their leader, and all the while communicating with a cop on the outside who is eventually replaced by a SWAT commander who doesn’t appreciate Paul’s struggles. It’s all very familiar, but done in a light-hearted PG friendly way all the while keeping the humour at the forefront of the action. The jokes are rarely overused, Paul’s hyperglycaemia for example is one that could very easily have been shoehorned in at every opportunity but it features sparingly and is more effective for that choice. Similarly there is a young Indian gentleman who Paul converses with on the phone in the film for reasons I won’t go into, but he’s basically the Argyle character from Die Hard and is again only featured a few times and is always very effective. Something that is overdone and falls somewhere between silly and annoying is the bad guys’ use of free running, bmx bikes and skateboards to traverse the mall resulting in far too many shots of them pulling tricks for the camera.
In the lead role (and also one of the writers) Kevin James does a fine job making for a very likeable lead due to his affable nature. The fact he’s playing the ‘little guy’ in a manner not dissimilar to the great John Candy did in many of his best roles also goes a long way to make him a sympathetic character that you can root for. He’s the brunt of many a joke in the film but he always takes it on the chin and rises above, eventually coming out on top not through witty retorts or unnecessary violence, but through hard work. It sends a good clean message to the kids while also keeping them amused as the handful that were in the screening I attended would no doubt attest to. The film makes no big statements nor does it try to be anything more than it is: a good natured comedy for the whole family to enjoy. It’s often silly and more than a little cheesy at times, but I suspect even the most cynical will struggle not to have a smile on their face when Paul beats the bad guys and walks off with the girl as the credits roll.