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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 movie review: stupor hero

Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 red light

Hard to believe, I know, but this is a real movie that real people have unashamedly put their names to. Because a sweet paycheck trumps human dignity.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): hated the first movie

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Imagine being asked to feel sorry for the Three Stooges. Except there’s only one of them, a combination of Larry and Curly (incorporating Moe would bring too much gravitas and intelligence to the character). Stir for 90 minutes, and leave for undemanding moviegoers to serve themselves. And then do it all again, though with even less sense of anyone involved giving a damn or putting in any actual effort, because the first such attempt made an ungodly amount of money so why bother?

Presenting Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. It sounds like a Saturday Night Live sketch that thinks there’s humor embedded in the title alone (there isn’t) that had overstayed its welcome 90 seconds in. But it’s a real movie that real people have unashamedly put their names to. Because a sweet paycheck trumps human dignity.

Paul Blart (Kevin James: Grown Ups 2, The Dilemma) is still riding high, six years later, on the fame — which exists only in his head — of his thwarting of a Die Hard-type plot at the New Jersey mall at which he is employed as a security guard. (That was the first movie. Now you don’t need to see it.) When he is invited to a security-guard convention in Las Vegas, he genuinely believes that he himself, as the savior of West Orange Pavilion Mall, might be the “surprise” keynote speaker… because keynote speeches are typically sprung as a spur-of-the-moment honor. Yes, Paul Blart is an idiot. He’s also gluttonous, clumsy, overbearing, self-deluded, and obnoxious. He’s a veritable personification of the seven dullest sins, which the movie celebrates, inviting us to laugh at Blart as he stuffs his face, trips over things, and generally behaves like a buffoon. Blart is the protagonist as punching bag.

No, wait, he’s the protagonist as misunderstood everyman: Lonely. Hard-working. Just trying to do his best in an unfriendly world. And he earns — nay, deserves — the love and respect that of course comes his way. Like from his daughter, Maya (Raini Rodriguez), willing to sacrifice everything for him and forgo acceptance at UCLA because she cannot bear to leave her childlike father alone. Like from the hotel manager (Daniella Alonso) and head of security (Eduardo Verástegui), whose rightful disdain for Blart as he blunders onto their turf and acts like an entitled moron will inevitably morph into literal adoration. If director Andy Fickman (Race to Witch Mountain) initially cannot decide if he wants us to laugh at Blart or cheer him on, he eventually comes down on the side of Blart Is Awesome!

I’ve said it before, and it’s worth saying again now: There is absolutely nothing that men can do or be — or neglect to do or be — no failing they can have, no emptiness they can embody, that Hollywood will not embrace as heroic.

Don’t think that Our Hero Blart won’t be scuttling another crime plot stolen from a far superior film! It’s Vegas, baby, so this time it’s a faux Ocean’s Eleven heist — led by Neal McDonough (Red 2, Captain America: The First Avenger) — that Blart will accidentally stumble into and derail through almost no genuine effort of his own. Fickman lays it out for us with all the gusto of a toilet paper commercial, not a would-be action comedy, which is sort of fitting for a movie in which competence equals villainy and incompetence, Paul Blart style, is a virtue. If Paul Blart were a filmmaker, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is the sort of movie he would make. And Paul Blart would think that was a compliment.

See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 for its representation of girls and women.

red light half a star

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Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (2015)
US/Can release: Apr 17 2015
UK/Ire release: Apr 10 2015

MPAA: rated PG for some violence
BBFC: rated PG (moderate comic violence)

viewed at a public multiplex screening

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • RogerBW

    He’s in the slot in the narrative that’s labelled “hero”, so he’s a hero. I guess. Eh, good enough, wrap and print.

  • thinkclearly68

    I love when people like this put down hilarious movies like Paul Blart. The majority of people LOVE it,this moron hates its. Majority rules. This author does not know movies. If it weren’t any good, why did it make so much money? hmmmm? He is just jealous he can’t make a movie this funny.

  • Oh, thinkclearly68, you are hilarious. Who is this “he” you speak of?

  • Bluejay

    Majority rules.

    What is it that you “rule”? Do you get to force everyone to think it’s good?

  • lotusmaglite

    Paul Blart: Mall Cop ranked #37 among movies released in 2009, the year it came out. The “majority” does not “LOVE it”; merely enough people to raise it to the lofty heights of the 37th most successful movie of 2009.

    The majority LOVED 36 movies released in 2009 more than they LOVED Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

  • David_Conner

    It seems to me that this has only become a “thing” in fairly recent times. It’s like the studios are afraid to just let a buffoonish clown character just *be* a clown. They have to tack on a bunch of stuff that makes the clown more sympathetic or that softens him (he’s not *really* as bad as he looks).

    But it’s miscasting. Chuck Jones often said something like “Bugs Bunny is the person we all would like to be. Daffy Duck is the person we fear we actually *are*.”

    Bugs is a “comic hero” archetype. He’s funny, but in most ways admirable, and not someone we laugh *at*. Daffy is a basket full of human foibles. We sympathize with him because we can see his foibles in ourselves, but we never make the mistake of seeing those foibles as actually somehow being *virtues*.

    I think that’s the problem of Paul Blart and a lot of other recent comedies: they’re making a Bugs Bunny picture, but casting Daffy Duck in the lead role. (Or making a Daffy Duck picture, but “softening” or excusing Daffy so much that he’s neither Duck nor Bunny.)

  • icallbullshit

    Let’s play “Spot the Logical Fallacy”! Please google “Appeal to Popularity” and report back

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I wondering that myself. What are we voting on?

  • Sam S

    a bit harsh on Kevin there .. He’s a good actor who was hired to act in a not so good movie – I’ve seen fat worse movies so good job all crew around the set it’s not easy to make a movie you know ;)

  • Danielm80

    She said almost nothing about Kevin James. She made the same criticism she made of everyone else involved: He put very little effort into—in your words—”a not so good movie.” Some people would say that’s the appropriate response to the material he was given.

  • James is one of the screenwriters and a producer on this film. He is not a hired hand: he’s one of the bosses.

  • FarmboyDuke

    I think movie critics are on par with used car salesmen when it comes to admiration. But this critic is dead on. This is one effing bad pile of steaming movie excrement.

  • Maybe you should trust film critics a little more. We’re not trying to sell you used cars. WTF?

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