Mall Cop a big, fat failure

Paul Blart: Mall Cop (heretofore referred to as Blart) is a celluloid testament to the enduring spirit of the American moviegoer’s willful consumption of cinematic horseshit.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop (heretofore referred to as Blart) is a celluloid testament to the enduring spirit of the American moviegoer’s willful consumption of cinematic horseshit.

When I went to review this movie, I was not stunned by how little I cared, but was stunned by how little I laughed.

Walking out of the theater last Thursday night (the evening previous to the film’s release), I was convinced that Blart would be a critical failure (which, no surprises, it was), as well as a financial disaster.

I was wrong. Dead wrong.

Blart, in spite of being terrible in pretty much every respect (except a couple), is the nation’s No. 1 movie at the box office. It is estimated that the long weekend’s take will net $40 million. Those are big numbers for an MLK-weekend movie, particularly one so devoid of substance and humor.

Look, I was not, by any stretch, expecting some sort of brilliantly subtle examination of America’s consumption-driven culture, embodied by a hypoglycemic, fatty mall cop whose failings in life are as vast as they are evident.

But I figured a film from Happy Madison, Adam Sandler’s production company, might feature a little more, oh I don’t know, comedy. I mean, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan was an abysmal attempt at illuminating ongoing issues in the Israeli-Arab conflict, but there was plenty of nasty and offensive humor to keep me (at the very least) chuckling.

If you’re unfamiliar with Blart, allow me to enlighten you. The film tells the story of Paul Blart (Kevin James, The King of Queens), a man who spends his days patrolling (via Segway) a New Jersey mall. He’s fat, depressed, in love with a girl hopelessly out of his league, demeaned frequently by co-workers and mall patrons, but still somehow maintains a “cup is half full” attitude.

When a team of extreme-athlete henchmen take over the mall (for some reason), it looks like Paul is the only one in a position to stop the graceful, decidedly idiotic villains from carrying out their nefarious plan (which, for the record, would be thwarted in no time by an FBI computer crimes task force).

Commence an hour of fat jokes and slapstick so shameless you’d think you were sitting at the kid’s table during Thanksgiving dinner.

What I want to know is why the fuck are all the henchmen also extreme athletes? Clad in all black, they skateboard, BMX or free-run through the multi-level shopping center, making it clear that athleticism (particularly extreme athleticism) is evil.

The villains’ ostentatious acrobatic maneuvers are totally unnecessary and make evident two things about this film: 1) It was made for 12-year-olds, and 2) The producers were apparently hired straight out of a 2002 marketing focus-group session for Mountain Dew.

Over the course of the film, Blart transforms from a cowardly, tubby mall cop who passes out if he goes 15 minutes without Pixy Stix, to a portly, mustachioed Adonis whose knowledge of the mall’s stores, restaurants, utility halls and ball pits allow him to hunt down his enemies with an efficiency and fervor rivaled only by John McClane of Die Hard.

Along the way, a variety of predictable twists shape the plot into a finely sculpted pile of excrement, up until the final, painfully clichéd minutes. 

As mentioned before, there are a total of two things not terrible about this film. The first is the appearance of Adhir Kalyan (Aliens in America) as the excited and horny Pahud, an unnecessary but welcome character who creepily tracks his girlfriend’s cell phone via GPS. 

The second is the plethora of Segway jokes. Do they ever get old? The very existence of the Segway is an absurdity in and of itself. Add the implied lethargy of the Segway rider, and the fact that you can’t go anywhere in this town without seeing a rent-a-cop dutifully cruising the streets on one of these absurd vehicles, and you have a recipe for occasional comedy.

If you’ve seen video of the Segway-riding chimp from Japanese television, or chuckle every time Gob rolls up in Arrested Development, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Other than that, Blart, despite it’s rotund title character, is slim pickings. There are no real standouts in the primary cast, even Kevin James disappoints, and given Blart‘s PG rating, there isn’t even dirty humor to resuscitate the film.

Save yourself 10 bucks and skip Paul Blart: Mall Cop. No amount of Segway can make this movie funny.

Want more?

Mall Cop‘s score at Rotten Tomatoes
Mall Cop at Metacritic
Mall Cop film clips at Yahoo! Movies