Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Director    Steve Carr
Starring    Kevin James, Keir O’Donnell, Jayma Mays
Release    16 JAN (US) 20 MAR (UK)    Certificate PG
3 stars


2nd April 2009

To quote Knocked Up's movie nudity aficionado, Ben Stone, 'good things come in pairs - Volcano, Dante's Peak, Deep Impact, Armageddon,' and obviously, naked celebrity websites, Mr. Skin and Flesh of the Stars. But now shopping mall-based comedies about tubby, jobs-worth security guards can go on that list, with the release of Kevin James' Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Seth Rogan's Observe and Report, released next month.

Before seeing what the more 'now' Seth Rogan has to offer the mall-based comedy genre, Kevin James meanwhile, with a little help from best bud, Adam Sandler, plays Paul Blart, a lonely single parent who makes up for his complete lack of authority by taking his duties of a New Jersey mall security guard extremely seriously - to the disdain of his colleagues and shoppers. There's no sign of Jay, Silent Bob, Brodie or even Ben Affleck but stick with it. When our bumbling, butt-of-all-jokes mall cop takes a rare few minutes to relax on the job at the arcade (minus John Connor), the mall is seized by BMXing, skateboarding and parkouring super villains with high-tech gizmos, fancy haircuts and baggy trousers. It's therefore left to Blart, his trusty Segway and complete lack of training to save the mall and liberate the hostages single handed. Think of it kinda like Rambo and Commando with a family fun, Home Alone feel to it.

Given this is Kevin James' first big screen lead, he carries it extremely well in the same vein of Will Ferrell in Elf and Anchorman. Paul Blart will no doubt be the start of some very big things for James. While many will recognise his tubby mug from Hitch or Chuck and Larry, connoisseurs of early morning weekday TV or The Paramount Comedy Channel will know him best from The King of Queens. Meanwhile, Jayma Mays, the sweet girl at the hair extensions shop, and the subject of Blart's affections, could be on course to steal Zooey Deschanel's cuteness crown - just look at her eyes! You could swim in those things!

The premise of a lovable loser with a crush on the out-of-his-league girl, who gets the opportunity to stand up for himself is by no means original. But, thanks to James' willingness to poke fun at himself, fall over a few times and get in the odd segway/people carrier-induced accident, it all seems refreshingly new - even if it does play on the fat man gag a few too many times.

If mall-based security guard comedies are your thing, Paul Blart, will certainly keep both adults and kids (it's a PG remember - not a swear word to be heard) entertained for an hour and a half. Who cares if we as British people have no understanding of the shopping day concept, 'Black Friday'. But if you prefer your mall cops to be violent, have filthy mouths and become a pain the arse for Ray Liotta, you'll have to wait till April 17. It's like the summer of 1998 all over again...just with mall cops and not Earth-destroying meteorites...or Bruce Willis.

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