PAUL BLART: MALL COP (**1/4) - Starring Kevin James, Keir O'Donnell, Jayma Mays, Raini Rodriguez, Shirley Knight, Peter Gerety and Bobby Cannavale.
Directed by Steve Carr.
I expected it to be stupid, and it was, but there were stretches where I kinda liked it. It felt like the type of movie John Candy would have done around 1986, or Chris Farley around 1996. They made thumbs-slightly-down movies too, you know.
Kevin James plays Paul Blart, a kind-hearted shlub who must endure constant fat jokes and pratfalls. He's a Segway-riding security guard, a mall cop, one of the lowest jobs on the uniform-wearing law-and-order chain. He has no authority and very little respect, but when a gang locks up the mall to steal $30 million, Blart is the one man on the inside who can stop them. It's Die Hard in the Mall!
What works? James has natural underdog charisma. There are a couple surprise laughs.
What doesn't work? The soundtrack way overrelies on 1980's nostalgia, like the B-side of The Wedding Singer (Adam Sandler co-produced). The plot is to-the-letter formula. Fat jokes get old. And you can't tell me a Segway going 5 mph can jump from the top of one building to another just because the fat guy leans forward.
It's PG and it's really more for teens and younger viewers, who might be more receptive to broader humor. (The less pratfalls you've seen, the funnier they are.) I don't mind to have seen it, and of the handful of 2009 titles I've seen, I've seen worse.