Film Review: ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2’

paul-blart-mall-cop-2-kevin-james
Image Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment

Kevin James keeps falling on his face and colliding with heavy objects, this time in Vegas, in this tacky, numbingly inane sequel.

Nothing aired by WikiLeaks could possibly be more destructive to Sony’s reputation than the release of “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2,” the sort of movie that goes beyond mere mediocrity to offer possible evidence of a civilization in decline. Predicated, like the 2009 original, on the repeated spectacle of Kevin James falling on his face or colliding with a series of heavy objects, this tacky, numbingly inane sequel also functions as a veritable product-placement playground — only this time, the playground isn’t a New Jersey shopping mecca but rather the Wynn Las Vegas & Encore Resort, whose participation saved the studio some $4.2 million in Nevada tax credits. And a good thing, too, insofar as the result is expected to post respectable numbers while falling short of the first pic’s $146 million domestic B.O. haul.

Falling short, of course, is what that lovable loser Paul Blart (James) does again and again — quite literally, whether he’s being thrown off his Segway by a convertible, or conking out mid-conversation from hypoglycemia, a condition that regularly turns him into some sort of sugar-deprived narcoleptic. Emotionally, too, Paul’s life has taken a tumble: In the first five minutes, we see him and his g.f. (Jayma Mays, reprising her role for 15 seconds) saying “I do,” but she has second thoughts and divorces him six days later. Then his mother (Shirley Knight, reprising her role for 10 seconds) dies after being run over by a milk truck.

So much for the women in Paul’s life, with the exception of his loyal teenage daughter, Maya (Raini Rodriguez), who can’t quite bring herself to tell him that she’s been admitted to UCLA, which is a long way from Jersey. On the same day Maya gets her good news, Paul receives an invitation to attend a security officers’ trade convention in Vegas — or, more precisely, at the Wynn Las Vegas & Encore Resort — and decides to attend, thinking he might finally be recognized for the daring Black Friday rescue operation he pulled off back in ’09. No such luck, of course: The real reason he’s been invited is so that he can be repeatedly humiliated, slighted, knocked over, attacked by exotic birds, and occasionally, unintentionally flirted with (by a game Daniella Alonso), all while wearing a succession of hideous, tropical-colored polyester shirts.

Evincing all the freshness and imagination of its title, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” sets our roly-poly hero on a collision course with a sneering thief named Vincent (Neal McDonough in his umpteenth stock-villain role), who’s trying to divest the Wynn Las Vegas & Encore Resort of its priceless art collection — which you could see firsthand, of course, if you were to pay the Wynn Las Vegas & Encore Resort a visit. And while you’re there, you really might as well also go and check out that multimillion-dollar aquatic theater piece “Le Reve,” a performance of which Paul naturally has to disrupt while being chased by one of Vincent’s gun-toting, aim-challenged goons. Soon Paul will have to call on his sad-sack security-guard brethren (they include Loni Love, Gary Valentine and Shelly Desai) for backup, forming a sort of sub-Avengers league with Tasers and other non-lethal weapons.

By a chance turn of events, Paul winds up giving the trade convention’s keynote speech, allowing him to hold forth on the daily indignities and fleeting rewards of being a security guard. It’s the one mildly amusing scene in the script (penned by returning scribes James and Nick Bakay), which has been directed with bumbling anonymity by Andy Fickman (taking over for the original’s Steve Carr), and lensed with seemingly no coherent visual ideas beyond “Get the Wynn Las Vegas & Encore Resort in the background as much as possible,” even if it requires that a simple poolside conversation be shot with a wide-angle lens. Inevitably, perhaps, there comes the moment when Steve Wynn himself makes a pointless cameo (by all appearances, having just emerged from his tanning bed), though not necessarily more pointless than the moment when Paul finds himself in the same elevator with Mini Kiss.

James and Rodriguez have an appreciably sweet father-daughter rapport, and the drama of whether or not Maya should go to UCLA (which is basically held up here as the Wynn Las Vegas & Encore Resort of universities) helps tether the movie to a somewhat recognizable reality. But James — an inherently likable screen presence who, even without the “Paul Blart” movies, would have far too much Adam Sandler-produced crap on his resume (“Zookeeper,” “Grown Ups,” “Grown Ups 2”) — deserves a much better signature role than the one he’s written for himself. There are surely better uses of this actor’s gut, grin and Everyman appeal than the scene in which he has to lie down underneath a girl’s dripping ice-cream cone, or the one where he’s forced to hurl himself down a flight of stairs while encased in bulletproof luggage. “Help someone today,” Paul Blart urges his keynote listeners; with any luck, he’ll take his own advice and keep us from having to see him in a movie ever again.

Film Review: ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2’

Reviewed at Arclight Cinemas, Pasadena, Calif., April 16, 2015. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 94 MIN.

Production

A Sony Pictures Entertainment release of a Columbia Pictures presentation in association with LStar Capital of a Happy Madison/Hey Eddie/Broken Road production. Produced by Todd Garner, Kevin James, Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo. Executive producers, Marty P. Ewing, Ben Waisbren, Jeff Sussman.  

Crew

Directed by Andy Fickman. Screenplay, Kevin James, Nick Bakay, based on characters created by James, Bakay. Camera (color), Dean Semler; editor, Scott Hill; music, Rupert Gregson-Williams; production designer, Perry Andelin Blake; art director, Alan Au; set decorator, Karen O'Hara; set designer, Mark Byers; costume designer, Genevieve Tyrrell; sound (Dolby Digital), Steve Cantamessa; re-recording mixers, Tateum Kohut, Greg Orloff; assistant director, K.C. Colwell; casting, Marcia Ross.

With

Kevin James, Raini Rodriguez, Neal McDonough, D.B. Woodside, Gary Valentine, Shirley Knight, Ana Gasteyer, Daniella Alonso, Shelly Desai, David Henrie, Loni Love, Bas Rutten, Nicholas Turturro, Eduardo Verastegui.

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  1. Remo Cino says:

    I don’t know where to start. I could only stomach 15 mins of this piece of tripe. Kevin James is the guy at the party with the lampshade on his head. A one trick pony begging for laughs. He is a pathetic, poor excuse for an actor. Why, why does Hollywood keep churning up this crap ??????? Please, if you haven’t seen this film, don’t.

  2. Jeanette says:

    The movie was horrible. I actually shut my eyes for about an hour, but at the end, kinda got interesting.. Stay with TV man. That movie was horrible

  3. Phil Lan says:

    He should have never ended King of Queens. He needs to stick to the king of queens style comedy. Here comes the boom and zoo keeper were his only somewhat good movies.

  4. Sam America says:

    no talent fat over paid actor who had a horrible tv show and makes horrible movies like Sandler and
    the rest of the not funny crew from SNL like Fallon, Fey and that stupid blonde who’s her sidekick
    and on that horrible tv show on NBC national broadcasting communist with no ratings! hollyweird sucks!

  5. lisa delille bolton says:

    Fine, you didn’t like it. See Here Comes the Boom, or make the movie you wanted to watch instead. Kevin James remains an honest genius and a charm bomb; I would follow him anywhere. Peanut butter does in fact smooth over the cracks in the heart, and it is in fact hard to find someone to catch you when you fall in love. Plus: so nice see a movie that you can watch on a saturday afternoon in the theatre with your teenager and his friends and just laugh happily together, without being embarrassed by four-syllable F words or creepy butt sex references or tired strip club scenes or cliche clouds of weed. I can’t be the only mom who feels this way.

  6. Bonnie Lee says:

    From your very first sentence I saw through your bias, and mentioning Wiki Leaks it was doubly obvious. This movie made me laugh. That is what I needed. Your review is horrible and hateful. Rather than missing out on any more Paul Blart, I intend to miss out on your future review.

  7. Lee Rudnicki says:

    I would like to formally nominate this as the meanest film review in the history of cinema. Then opening sentence alone deserves special recognition.

  8. scout124 says:

    Wondering what movies Sony turned down so they could make… THIS…

  9. Also: Give Paul Blart back to Marvel, Sony. Only they can save this franchise now.

  10. This review almost feels like a dare. Nice try Mr Chang, but I’m still not going anywhere near this turd.

  11. Macd says:

    Many thanks, Mr. Chang, for your hilarious review which, I’m certain, is funnier than anything in this wretched movie. SONY is certainly on a roll–downhill all the way!

  12. REVIEWER says:

    Stop making fun of this movie and these actors they try to make a funny movie to earn some money and make people laugh so if you’re just gonna call them fat and stupid then you are just a sad little lowlife a sadist

  13. Spike says:

    he’s right. for sony to spend $ on this piece of s–t shows that the civilization is in decline, along with the average IQ of the moviegoer

  14. cadavra says:

    This entire subgenre of fat people knocking things over and falling down (yes, I’m looking at you, too, Melissa McCarthy) became real tiresome ages ago. Move on, people.

  15. I am Dr. Hug says:

    Hilarious. hahaha.

  16. THEPUPPETMAN says:

    Nevada is a right to work state. I love Vegas. Steve Wynn loves Vegas. Have a drink… Do some filming… Save some money. Live. Oh yea… I want to nominate Steve Wynn for an Academy award.
    Scott Land.

  17. Don Benn says:

    Wow! What a well written rotten review. Now I’m not a film reviewer…..just a 63 year old guy who has been going to the movies since they were twenty five cents…..so I can’t disagree with anything you said. What I will say is that movies like Paul Blart…with any # at the end……are made for audiences who want to laugh….at movies like Paul Blart. It may not be fine cinema…..but for simple folks like me it’s a heck of a lot of fun…..and if a movie makes me laugh or smile…or both…..well, then I think it’s pretty good.

    • Bony Hurdle says:

      “…movies like Paul Blart…are made for audiences who want to laugh” – Don Benn

      Obviously. So, should the critic have started his review with “I know movies like this are made for people who want to laugh, but I didn’t find it funny at all.” And then list all the reasons why…

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