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Blu-ray Review: Paul Blart: Mall Cop

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It’s like Live Free or Die Hard… but in a building.

Wait, that’s not quite right, but it’s not too far off either.  It would be more accurate to describe Paul Blart: Mall Cop as Die Hard, but played for laughs.

The film, directed by Steve Carr (Daddy Day Care), was the first 2009 release to cross the 100 million dollar mark and stars Kevin James as Blart, a security guard at the local mall.  Though Blart has ambitions to be a New Jersey State Trooper, they are constantly foiled for one reason or another – most recently due to his hypoglycemia.  Blart is forced to content himself with his dead-end, no respect position.  However, when Blart’s mall Blartcomes under attack by a bunch of X-Games-type thieves (some of the actors apparently did participate in said games), it falls to the Segway-driving, down on his luck, guard to save the day.

Oh yes, there’s also a girl – Amy (Jayma Mays).  If Amy didn’t work at the fake hair weave kiosk called Unbeweavable  at the mall she would be completely out of Blart’s league and probably is anyway.  However, that doesn’t stop Blart from pursuing her in his own haphazard way, and because it’s a movie, it doesn’t stop her from being interested.  Also, because it’s a movie, she ends up as one of the hostages when the bad guys start their heist.
If the plot sounds uninspired you should hear the jokes.

Yes, they fall just as flat as that one.  And, just like that one they all have an outside shot at making you smile, but an equally good shot at making you wince. 

James is clearly a capable, funny comedian (and has both a producer and writer credit on the movie), but that doesn’t come across here.  Much of the comedy is found in Blart’s inadequacies, and in displaying them he becomes all too annoying.  The character doesn’t convey the likability that Peter Sellers gave his ultimate blundering detective – Jacques Clouseau.  One feels bad for Blart and one feels bad laughing at him, it was always easy to laugh at Clouseau; Blart is just a sad sack of a human being. 

It’s not a problem that he is going to save the day – he is, after all, the hero of the film – but it would have been nice to see Blart take on a halfway decent gang.  As it stands, the bad guys in the filBaddiesm are in no way developed and one can’t quite imagine why the “brains” behind the operation, Veck Sims (Keir O’Donnell), possibly thought he had a winning scheme or group of people to carry it out with.  

On the plus side, Paul Blart: Mall Cop tries, it tries really hard.  Kevin James as the star gives it everything he has, fully throwing himself into the role. It’s too bad though that Kevin James the co-writer didn’t construct a better script with better baddies and more funny jokes.  If he had, the film would be more than the dime-a-dozen bland comedy that it is.  It’s not a film that you’ll want to watch over and over again, but if you’re bored and see it for free you won’t actually believe that you wasted your time either.

The Blu-ray release of the film sports good black levels and decent sound.  Like the film itself, there’s really nothing there to wow you in the presentation, but you won’t feel as though youBlart on Segway were cheated either – there’s no need to adjust the color or sit holding the remote to continually play with the audio levels.  And the soundtrack, which might be the best (though cheesy) part of the film comes through loud, clear, and beautifully.

As for special features, like the film itself, the release takes the “more is more” approach, giving deleted scenes and a plethora of standard behind-the-scenes featurettes.  It also comes with a digital copy of the film so that you can take the mall cop with you everywhere you go – just in case you ever get caught by skateboarding and BMX thieves in a mall on Black Friday.  I wouldn’t use the movie for pointers at that time, except if you use it to learn that a Segway probably isn’t your fastest means of transportation.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop will in no way change your life.  Like its main character it’s a sedentary affair that just sort of plods along doing the minimum necessary to hold your interest and desperately wanting to be loved.  Is that enough for you?  If it is, who am I to tell you you’re wrong.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.