' ' Cinema Romantico: Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Friday, August 28, 2009

Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Three consecutive weekends of extreme activity have left me feeling a bit under the weather this week and so last night I found myself searching the pay per view channels for something that best fit the following criteria: Movie To Watch While Sick And Laying On The Couch. It didn't take me long to find one.

"Paul Blart: Mall Cop."

Our hapless title character (Kevin James) lives at home with his mom and young daughter and his dreams of being a New Jersey State Trooper are continually dashed by a pesky hypoglycemia problem. He works at a West Orange, New Jersey mall as a security guard, a dead-end job he takes far more seriously than anyone else which leaves him the source of much ridicule. His trusty Segway is practically his security blanket. But hope springs eternal in the form of young, comely Amy (Jayma Mays), who runs a wig kiosk in the mall. Their romantic moment astride that Segway with a little 80's rock for effect is (I'm not ashamed to say it!) awesome - an over the top, ridiculous moment that is played entirely straight. Of course, Paul wastes nary a moment in blundering this romantic possibility, a development that allows James to revel in his customary physical comedy.

Redemption, though, is right around the corner. Black Friday, the worst shopping day of the year, turns even more ominous when a group of strangely under-armed thugs (who also put to use skateboards and bikes, though they seem rather useless when you see them bounding about in light speed like a cavalry of pre-pubescent gymnasts), headed up by a villain so bland he wouldn't have made the cut on the fifth season of "Alias", appear at closing time, wrangle a few mall employees hostage and threaten to....crap. I already forgot. But does it really even matter what they are doing so long as they are there at the mall doing it? The bad guys are merely a platform for Paul Blart to test his manhood! Thank goodness he was rocking out to Guitar Hero in the closed-up arcade when his precious mall was invaded so the crooks missed him!

The cops and SWAT Team inevitably appear outside and council Paul to give himself up but once our man Blart realizes Amy is among the kidnapped he has no choice but to stay inside and make like John McClain in "Die Hard", even if "scooby-dooby-do" is not quite as grand a catchphrase as "yippie-ki-ay".

I have to say, "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" was refreshing in that it was not quite exactly what I expected, which is to say it was not god-awful. It was really very....very....harmless. I expected fart jokes whipped at me incessantly but not so. A lot of the humor comes from the empathy generated for Paul Blart. By God, we want this security guard to succeed and, against all odds, he does! (Whoops! Did I give it away?!)

John McClain is a fine one-man-against-everyone-else hero and if I were trapped in a mall with terrorists he is probably the guy I would hope happened to be trapped in there with me. But there are times when maybe John McClain is just a little too much, a little too in your face. Sometimes you want a hero who doesn't know exactly how to woo the girl and who at the sight of an automatic weapon cries "Sweet mercy!" and books it in the opposite direction.

Sometimes you just want a little "peanut Blart and jelly."

No comments: