There were two surprises in the month of January, but at least Taken was an action-thriller starring Liam Neeson. No one, and I mean no one, saw Paul Blart: Mall Cop coming. The movie with mildly funny trailers kicked off in a big way and kept on trucking throughout the first quarter, eventually earning $150 million in the United States. Box office analysts were confounded. Critics were left scratching their heads. And an unlikely hero was born.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop is about an overweight security guard who has strived to become a police officer, but always gets sidetracked for one reason or another (primarily due to a condition he has that causes him to fall asleep at inopportune times). Luckily, he has a new mall attendant to keep an eye on (the button cute Jayma Mays), but his bumbling demeanor and the lack of respect among his peers continue to get in his way. But when a bunch of thieves take the mall hostage, Mr. Blart is forced to take them down one by one once the love of his life is taken hostage.
Paul Blart is a mildly funny but consistently entertaining comedy that will appeal to both children and adults alike. Kevin James, the 21st century's representation of the slightly overweight everyday man, takes his role to heart, relishing in all the goofy and embarrassing moments that his character endures. Director Steve Carr (Next Friday) also seems to embrace the outlandishness of the film, taking pride with some slow motion shots and action sequences. There are enough laughs and "thrills" to satisfy the common moviegoer.
That being said, it's not surprising that the critics tore this movie apart. The movie's plot is as routine and stereotypical as action comedies come, with the unwitting civilian becoming an unlikely hero. The only difference is that he isn't paired with a smarter, more down-to-earth partner. Beyond that, Paul Blart could have been much funnier than it is; it evokes chuckles more than it does belly laughs.
Still, Paul Blart is a fun, entertaining movie that's harmless in every way. It has some action, it has some comedy, and most importantly, it has Kevin James acting like an idiot, albeit a determined idiot. Recommended to people who don't take their movies too seriously.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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