Paul has dreamed of becoming a New Jersey State Police officer and has tried and failed 8 years in a row to pass the exam. It is not because he lacks heart or ability, though. He is hypoglycemic and low blood sugar attacks consistently put him on the sidelines every time. He is dedicated to people, and wants to serve and protect, so he takes the next best thing as “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.”
Take “Die Hard,” mix in slapstick humor, goofiness and cuddly Kevin James, and you get an amiable, non-offensive, good natured comedy that uses the quintessential action film’s story to good affect. The filmmakers take the time to build both character and story so you get to know Paul Blart, the man, before the mall-held-hostage-by-the-bad-guys action kicks in. James makes Paul a sympathetic, not pitied, character whose big heart cannot quite overcome his big, overweight body. But, when the chips are down, he is the one you want on your wing.
Writers Nick Bakay and Kevin James pay terrific homage to their action source. Blart, in a jam and alone against seven heavily armed invaders, has only his Segway personal transporter and his radio to battle the bad guys, led by Alan Rickman-like Veck Sims (Keir O’Donnell). The crinal masterminds the mall invasion on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, to steal the credit card codes from all the merchants and taking the ill-gotten gains to the Caymans. Veck, like Hans Gruber, is obsessed with getting the codes stolen by Blart. Meanwhile, the dedicated Paul uses his meager mall resources to take out Sims henchmen. With a nod to the western classic, “Destry Rides Again,” he does it all without using a gun. The writing is unexpectedly intelligent for a goofy comedy.
The DVD has loads of extras with a commentary track by producers James and Todd Garner is mildly interesting though not insightful. There are also the requisite deleted scenes but these just bring attention to why they were deleted in the first place. The numerous making-of featurettes includes a treat for those of us in eastern Massachusetts with the Burlington Mall highlighted in one of them. I give “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” and the DVD set a B-.
"Paul Blart: Mall Cop" is a genial, inoffensive little comedy that coasts on the charm of its "King of Queens" star James, who has the physical grace of many large comedians, like Jackie Gleeson (really - his prowess on a Segway is impressive!). There may be one too many fat jokes, but this is one 'untraditional romantic lead gets woman who should be out of his reach' that works because, heck, who wouldn't enjoy Blart's company? This is a comedy that one watches with a smile rather than loads of laughter, but that's OK too. The DVD features include one on "The Mall" which explains how the Burlington Mall in Massachusetts seemed tailor made for the script and how the people of Boston made shooting in a working mall fairly easy. The commentary track by James and producer Todd Garner is almost more notable for what is not said (every actor is noted at length and (over) praised except for James's romantic costar, "Ugly Betty's" Jayma Mays - ouch! - and nothing is mentioned about the film's extraordinary box office) than what is (James notes where he incurs various injuries, etc.). B-
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