Paul Blart: Mall Cop Review
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At this time of year, brainless comedies are a dime a dozen (even in this economy). You see, after a few months of releasing heavy, dramatic award contenders, studios usually take some time off in January to take out the trash—resulting in January releases like 2008’s Mad Money and First Sunday. So when I head to the theaters in January, I don’t expect brilliant works of cinematic genius. I dare hope for nothing more than a good, solid laugh or two.

But as I watched Kevin James’s January comedy, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, I was surprised to find that it isn’t as bad as the trailers might suggest. It’s actually much, much worse.

  
 
Co-writer James stars as the title character, an overweight, over-achieving mall “security officer” who’s been rejected by the New Jersey Police Academy eight times (and counting). He lives with his mother (Shirley Knight) and his teenage daughter, Maya (Raini Rodriguez)—both of whom are seriously concerned about his happiness and mental health (as well as his debilitating hypoglycemia). But while they’re busy baking him pies and signing him up for an online dating service, he’s using his position of authority (and his mall-issued Segway) to attract the attention of mall kiosk salesgirl, Amy (Jayma Mays).

Blart has never had much luck with the ladies, but he finally gets a chance to prove that he’s a real hero when, on Black Friday, a group of tattooed X Games rejects disguised as Santa’s elves decide to rob the mall—taking Amy and Maya hostage in the process.

Paul Blart’s problems start right away—with the basics. Take, for instance, the main character. Like Rainn Wilson’s has-been hair-band drummer in The Rocker, the overzealous mall cop may make an amusing supporting character, but he’s just not interesting (or funny) enough to carry a whole movie. Blart is fat. He rides a Segway. And he takes himself (and his job) extremely seriously. That’s about all you get. Even if that makes you laugh the first time around (which, most likely, it won’t), after a while, it feels like an endless parade of the same tired, broken-down old gags.

From there, it only gets worse. The writing is so lazy that most of the cast members look (understandably) ashamed to be saying their idiotic lines—except for the self-proclaimed leader of the mall-robbing hoodlums, who delivers lines with laughably sinister (and sometimes even mildly entertaining) gusto. Since the story isn’t exactly substantial, there’s also plenty of ridiculous filler—from fat guys competing in a nacho-eating contest to an amorous Indian teenager, whose mere existence (or perhaps his stereotypical accent) is supposed to be absolutely hilarious.

Unfortunately, nothing about Paul Blart: Mall Cop is even the slightest bit hilarious. In fact, it’s almost unfair to call this dim-witted disaster a comedy (out of respect to real comedies that are actually funny). If you ask me, it’s more of a tragedy.

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