Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Relativity Media 2009

(Attempting to restore regularly scheduled programming, which is more than I can say for the plumbing here.)

Before watching the movie:

So I guess the joke is Kevin James is a fat, self-important security guard? And probably most of the comedy is going to come from Blart being fat or overstepping his station? I never expected this to be a great movie, or all that interesting. But it’s available, and it’s probably got some actually funny parts.

I just don’t know how they can make a feature length movie out of that concept.

After watching the movie:

Paul Blart has failed to pass the entrance exam for the New Jersey State Police multiple times, but continues to try to do what he loves through his job as a security officer at a mall as he raises his daughter Maya in his mother’s house. Patrolling the mall with the bravado of a real police officer, always atop a Segway, Blart seems like a joke to everyone around him. Then he meets Amy, a wig kiosk vendor who is the girl of his dreams, and he makes a not-unfavorable impression with her until an accidental bender at the popular after-work hangout she invited him to makes him just another embarrassing jerk to her. Not long after, a gang of criminals take over the mall just before closing, taking hostages in the bank and plotting to steal credit card terminal codes so they can transfer millions to their offshore accounts. Blart, having been inadvertently distracted by arcade video games when the takeover happened, finds himself the only person in the mall not locked in the bank as a hostage. He hasn’t got a plan, but he swore a completely made up oath to protect the mall, and when he finds out Amy is one of the hostages, not even a direct order from the SWAT leader will turn him from stopping the bad guys.

This was a lot less crude than I expected, and Blart is much less the butt of the joke than I expected, at least once the story gets going. Paul Blart demonstrates a lot of earnest heroism, and it doesn’t come off as him being the designated hero so much as the wrong guy in the right place. I was expecting lazy not-even-a-cop fart joke stuff, but what actually plays out is a halfway novel take on Die Hard, though the parallel between terrorism-as-cover-for-robbery and robbery-as-cover-for-wire-fraud was maybe a bit excessive.

Blart is excessively earnest and awkward, but deeply honorable for the most part, and so I felt like he was much better representation for overweight people than are usually portrayed. I’m unclear on whether his daughter Maya is half-Mexican because they wanted to cast the girl that they cast, which seems unlikely because her biggest early non-Blart role was after this movie, but the gag about him marrying her mother for her green card and bringing her into the country on a very overloaded donkey seemed very out of place. My best guess is that they wanted to justify why he had a daughter without getting too invested in his dead wife to obstruct the love story. They make it clear that he loved her fine, but she wasn’t the love of his life, and Maya is very eager to get her dad set up with someone who will make him happy. But then additionally, the main function of Maya in the plot is to get captured to raise the stakes, and that could also be done a completely different way.

I feel like even if I hadn’t come in with such low expectations, I would’ve appreciated this movie pretty well. It’s not at all a favorite, nor is it an exceptionally deep or complicated film, but it’s a perfectly fine movie that does what it sets out to do and lets the big guy earn his hero role.

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