There's a certain reek of insignificance which comes with being a lowly rent-a-cop, an authority figure with no real authority (to paraphrase Kevin James, a mall cop or a security guard's strongest move is they gotta call the real police). And, if you're an overweight, klutzy, hypoglycemic mall security guard like Paul Blart (Kevin James), a whole new realm of pathetic is explored. Paul Blart is a guy who never made good. He is zero for eight in his tries at passing the physical exam for the New Jersey State Police. Still living with his mother, long abandoned by his wife (an illegal immigrant who only married him to get that Green Card), haplessly in crush with the girl at the hair accessories kiosk, and so down-and-out in his love life that his supportive young daughter coaxes him to sign up with an online dating service... Paul Blart is a loveable loser. But on Black Friday, the craziest shopping day of the year, as thieves overrun his mall and take hostages, Paul Blart gets a chance to be the hero. He's alone, tired, fat... and the only chance anyone has got.
PAUL BLART MALL COP may have been a surprising box office hit, but there's no denying its feel-good underdog appeal. I liked it enough and laughed plenty enough that I found it easy to overlook the plot inconsistencies and contrivances. I think it's worth 3.5 stars out of 5. In watching this one, it's fairly obvious that a homage is being paid to [[ASIN:B000O77SRC Die Hard]], with our much abused mall cop playing the part of John McClane. And like McClane, Blart as the eyes inside gets no respect from the arriving police officer in charge. Ditto treatment from the S.W.A.T. commander, who used to bully Blart back in school. Even Blart's supervisor is quick to caution him: "I'm not gonna sugarcoat it. You're untrained. You're unarmed... Let's face it, son, you present a huge target."
In DIE HARD Hans Gruber covets his lost detonator, which McClane had gotten a hold of. In this one Blart ends up with the credit card codes for the mall shops, something which the bad guy here originally had and now most desperately craves. So that's one more similarity. There's another moment which echoes a DIE HARD scene, the one with a near spent McClane taking time out to assess his wounds. Except that in Blart's case, his booboo is salved with a kid's bandaid. PAUL BLART MALL COP is a spoofy comedy, yet it's intelligently written enough that you do get invested in the story and its outcome. Kevin James tiptoes (heh!) the line between comedy and pathos. He handles plenty of his own stunts and demonstrates unexpected grace and physicality and some very good pratfalls and slapstick, his character consistently landing himself in very embarrassing predicaments. Blart tends to be officious and overzealous when on the job, traits that are offset by his inherently kind nature and big, big heart. Kevin James makes absolutely sure that the movie audience is on Blart's side, even if it means that Blart gets bagged on by the really obnoxious pen salesman or beat up by a *ahem* whole lot of woman.
Note that Blart's Segway personal transporter qualifies almost as an extension of our hero's character, much like Indiana Jones's hat helped to flesh out that guy's persona. I wonder how long it took James to get familiar with motoring on the Segway, because he looks very, very comfortable on that thing. Two things which also work are Blart's relationship with his chubby, optimistic daughter and his clumsy wooing of Amy, the hair extension kiosk girl (her kiosk is called "Unbeweavable"). Although, admittedly, I pretty much cringed thru all those painfully awkward conversations between him and Amy. The film does a nice job of ensuring that the character moments are laid in before introducing the action/suspense plot. The action sequences, when they do come, are well executed, giving the fat man good opposition in the shapes of athletic perps who flaunt X Games skills (and even parkour). Paul Blart manages to turn the mall's resources to his advantage and to confound the baddies, even if the methods he applies are ridiculously implausible. The movie is all very silly, but presented in such an engaging manner that I couldn't help but be entertained. I certainly wouldn't say no to a sequel.
The mild DVD bonus stuff includes the following: mildly amusing audio commentary by Kevin James & producer Todd Garner; ten weak deleted scenes (Blart gets photographed for his online dating profile; Blart and the S.W.A.T. guy, in pursuit; muttering cleaning custodian; a lost little boy; a quick bar chatter; bad guy explaining the importance of the credit card codes; criminal mastermind chastises a henchman; Paul needs to translate a cell phone text message; Pahud & Paul chatting on the celly; Blart is attacked with snowglobes); and the following mostly self-explanatory featurettes: "Kevin James: Not Your Average Mall Cop"; "Action Sports Junkies" & "Stunts" - these two segments are pretty cool, featuring real life X Gamers who played the bad guys in this film and their stunts, and also stunts by Kevin James; "The Mall"; and "On Set with Mike 'Rooftop' Escamilla" (Escamilla is an actor/BMX stuntguy).