In the first Paul Blart movie, Paul Blart was a nice guy. He was an over-achieving security guard at the local mall who took valuable pride in ensuring total customer satisfaction (and safety) when folks were out buying the week’s groceries. Sure, he was a bumbling buffoon, but at least his heart was made of rich stuff. And hey, he saved the day and got married.
The Paul Blart of this new movie is a sour, misogynistic irritant who falls deep into the pit of loneliness and is made up not of brains or the willpower of life but with this awkward insatiable need to tumble around as if perpetually trapped in one of those trampoline arenas for kids younger than 15.
He is bestowed the character arc lifeline of most everyman Hollywood heroes: The daughter he just can’t let go, because, the poor thing, she’s all he has. Her name is Maya (Raini Rodriguez), and she’s been accepted to UCLA (that’s big news for the Blart family, as it should be) but has to hide the wonderful news from her father because she’s worried about spending so much time on the other side of the country. This is good for Paul (Kevin James), because after losing his wife from the first movie to divorce and losing his mother to the radiator vent of a milk truck, what he needs is a stable companion. His choice, though, is questionable.
Paul is invited to the annual security officer’s convention in Las Vegas, which worries me because it means all malls across America are left unguarded. It is here that we get to meet some other security guards, all of whom look like they’ve recently enjoyed a drug binge (there’s an apparent narcoleptic who wanders into a fistfight wearing a hairdressing cape).
This convention is a great honour for Paul, not so much for Maya, who locks eyes with the cute valet boy (David Henrie) and presumably gets him fired, since he spends the rest of the movie in civilian clothes, meeting up with Maya all over the casino grounds. He even knows how to sneak into presidential suites when the tenants aren’t looking.
In one of the suites Maya stumbles upon Vincent (Neal McDonough), a wealthy whatever-he-is who’s in the midst of a grand art heist (I was particularly amused by how Vincent freaks out when Maya spots him but is otherwise completely comfortable holding a poor employee at gunpoint in front of windows large enough to accommodate a jumbo jet). That Vincent would set up his base of operations in the very resort he’s trying to rip off tells you all you need to know about his scheme.
Now Maya is a hostage and Paul has to once again Segway into action by running roughshod through the bowels of the Wynn Casino, rolling and fumbling and tumbling. I get that Kevin James is comfortable with his body, much like Rosie O’Donnell or Jack Black, but once we’ve seen him sliding across the floor to hide behind a flower pot, only to overshoot and shuffle back, we’ve seen it all. It’s a pity that James, who co-wrote this movie with Nick Bakay, has to rely on silly body humour instead of witty innocent dialogue to scramble for laughs.
Where is the innocence of Paul geeking out on arcade games while the shopping mall surrenders to thieves? Certainly not here. In Mall Cop 2 we’re treated to Paul punching an elderly lady in the gut, then instead of him seeking help, she tells him she’s just fine. What a sweetheart. Women all over the movie bend and contort to appease Paul. One is harassed by a drunk at a bar and is told by Paul to practice forgiveness. Another breaks all police codes of conduct by writing him a ticket with her number on it. The sympathetic general manager of the Wynn Casino literally has her feelings dictated by him. This dominance Paul has over the women in the film will go unnoticed by most, I am sure, but it is there, lurking beneath the surface. It turns him into a vile creature. And then he hops on a Segway, does a couple of spins, and is supposed to make us all laugh.
Best Moment | Nope.
Worst Moment | Yep.