I always enjoyed Kevin James’s sitcom THE KING OF QUEENS, one of the many so-called “slob husband, hot wife” comedies that were popular for a while. He’s been good in a number of supporting roles in movies, too, but PAUL BLART, MALL COP is the first film where he takes the leading role. He also co-wrote the script with Nick Bakay, a good supporting comedy actor in his own right. Not surprisingly, James plays something of a loser, a guy who’s tried eight times to make it onto the New Jersey State Police but failed the physical exam each time. So he works as a security guard in a mall instead and lives with his mother and the daughter produced by a brief marriage to an illegal immigrant who married him for a green card and then took off as soon as the child was born.
This set-up occupies about the first fourth of the movie, and it’s funny but also sad. Then things change when a gang of robbers takes over the mall on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and Paul Blart winds up being the only one left in the mall to take on the thieves and rescue some hostages, including the kiosk girl he’s fallen for. From there on out it’s a pretty nice little spoof of the original DIE HARD.
This is one of those movies that got mediocre reviews, then made a lot of money, confounding the critics. I suspect that it was successful because it’s a well-written comedy that works more often than not. No, it doesn’t set lofty goals, and you’ll probably know just about everything that’s going to happen in it. But I sat and laughed and rooted for Paul Blart and had a fine time doing it. That’s plenty for me to say that this is a pretty good movie.
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