Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Working The Malls

And so, it continues. Once again, a mediocre comedy dominates the box office. If this trend continues then next month the number 1 movies should be Pink Panther 2, Confessions of a Shopaholic and Madea Goes To Jail. As for the last two weeks, we've been treated to Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

If you measure Paul Blart up against other movies in the same category like Four Christmases or Bedtime Stories, it looks pretty good. Hell, I'd call Paul Blart the Citizen Kane of slightly lame, forgettable comedies. I could be wrong but, if there's another movie that could arguably be called the Citizen Kane of forgettable comedies, I've forgotten all about it.

You've all seen the ads so you all know the basic premise. You have Kevin James playing Paul Blart, a likable loser who can't fulfill his dream of becoming a New Jersey State Trooper because he has hypoglycemia. He substitutes that dream with a job as a mall security guard, a job he performs with an overly large amount of zeal. I know we don't go to movies like this looking for realism, but one of the things that kept knocking me out of the movie was that I kept thinking you couldn't get away with doing the things that are done to Blart. Sure, he's not a cop but a security guard can call the cops and get you at least banned from the mall when you do things like throw stuff at them or run over them with one of those scooters they let handicapped people drive. The whole premise of the movie, though, is the security guard in general is a useless profession and that Blart, in particular, is a walking, talking joke. The purpose of doing that is to give him something to overcome.

One of the other plot points is that Blart has a crush on Amy, a pretty cashier played by Jayma Mays. I liked her when she was on Heroes and Sylar sliced her head open. I was wondering if I'd like her as much with her head on and it turns out that yeah, I do. Amy actually seems to be at least somewhat attracted to Paul until he gets drunk and makes a fool of himself. At this point you're probably thinking, "Gosh, the only way that Paul could win Amy back would be if she got kidnapped and Paul, against all odds, was able to overpower the kidnappers and rescue her." Wow, you're incredible if that is actually what you were thinking.

The second half of the movie is pretty good, much better than the first half anyway. It works as a Die Hard parody when a gang of highly competent super-thieves seize the mall and hold Amy, among others, hostage. It's funny to watch Paul Blart trying to act like an action movie hero like when he tries to slide across the floor to safety and doesn't quite make it or when Paul and one of the criminals have their version of a car chase with the bad guy riding a bike and Paul riding his official Security Guard Segway (I will give points to Paul, he's like Dale Earnhardt on that Segway, something that's both one of Paul's strengths and a running joke in the movie). In the end, Paul fails miserably and is gutted open like a fish while Amy is taken to the Middle East and sold as a sex slave. HA! Gotcha. What, you really think this won't have a happy ending?

Paul Blart: Mall Cop is one of those pleasant little movies that doesn't really affect your life one way or the other. If you see it, you'll chuckle now and then and maybe find some time to nap. If you don't, you will somehow find the a way to go on living. Get used to seeing that paragraph as I have a feeling I'll be using it on many other movies this year.

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