Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
Christian Movie Review
In “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2,” we find Kevin James’s goofy Blart stumbling into another web of trouble in which he must, against all odds, summon his come-from-behind underdog mall cop powers to win the day. It’s basically the same scenario as the first movie — just bigger settings (Las Vegas Wynn resort), bigger bad guys (Neal McDonough), and bigger Segways.
It has a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes with 37 critics reporting in at the time of this writing. Ouch. The critics are tearing it to pieces. They detected laziness in the filmmaking (very predictable/overused plot, characters, situational gags, and conflicts), and critics really hate it when filmmakers phone it in.
The film relies on the comedic performance of Kevin James — as he does his best with the material given him. Your enjoyment of the film will hinge on how much you like the comedic style of James and the bumbling-hero-on-a-Segway concept.
I’ll explain why I still had a decent time at this movie, despite all the issues above noted by other critics (though it’s hard to disagree with many of their criticisms). But first we’ll cover the parental guidance issues…
Parental Guidance Issues at a Glance…
Sexual Content/Nudity/Themes of Sexuality/Romance: The film is PG, so there’s nothing really to report in this category. A woman makes advances toward Blart. Blart swaggers over to a woman to pick up on her. A teenage girl attends a party with a guy, though nothing develops from it.
Violence/Gore: This is a little surprising for a PG movie, but there’s a scene in which a 70-year-old woman gets hit and killed instantly by a large truck that’s going probably 65 mph while she is standing stationary on a street. We see the impact, we hear and see her body fly off the screen in a slapstick fashion, and the next scene implies that she definitely did not survive. There’s no blood or gore of any kind. It’s done in a way that’s slapstick to the extreme, but still a very crushing, quasi-realistic impact. Other slapstick violence: man gets electrocuted repeatedly from taser, a man trapped in a container falls into a pool and almost drowns, a bullet glazes a man, a child slaps an adult in the face, and a makeshift arrow strikes a man in the chest (though it only wounds him moderately). A man has an allergic reaction and his face swells up in a grotesque way.
Language: Nothing that I can remember, unless I count “butt,” “crap” — there were a few of those.
Alcohol/Drug/Smoking Content: People in the casino are seen drinking. (Though Blart doesn’t drink. He just orders a rootbeer.)
Frightening/Intense Content: The elderly woman-getting-crushed-by-a-speeding-truck was rather jarring (catches you off guard) — maybe a little disturbing. It was definitely done in the extreme for comedic effect, however, and it stays within the PG realm. I wouldn’t want very young ones to see that though (i.e. I would not take my three-year-old to see this because of that scene.)
Squeamish Content: This is a new content section. I’ve found, over the years, that some people are really sensitive to squeamish, gross-but-not-in-a-dirty-way moments in a movie — whether it’s Tony Stark getting a battery taken out of his chest in a way that creates “gooey” sound effects in Iron Man or someone launching really detailed projectile vomit. I’ve known some people to actually skip seeing a movie because of its potential for squeamishness. These moments aren’t necessarily “bad” in the Parental Guidance sense, they’re just, well, kind of gross. So this category is for all you folks out there who are a little extra sensitive to squeamish gags. This movie has two: a character eats an extremely old, overly ripe, totally black banana (though I thought James’s reaction to it was really funny) and a character develops an allergic reaction that disfigures his face and creates grotesque boils. Let the squeamish times roll!
(Review continues below)
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Entertainment Value and Film Craft
As I mentioned in the intro, this film doesn’t present anything vastly different in its plot from the first film. So the entertainment value hinges on whether you’re a Kevin James fan and whether the hero-on-a-Segway concept still makes you laugh after seeing the first film. With some exceptions, the film relies on Kevin’s comedic style to generate the biggest laughs.
I was a fan of Kevin James in his TV show “King of Queens” — I really enjoyed that show — so I had an early bias in James’s favor from the beginning of his film career. I find his awkward, bumbling schtick — and his just-try-to-play-it-cool ad libbing and vocal comedy — to be entertaining. And his hopeless but always hopeful Blart character is endearing.
So, despite a predictable plot — which, frankly, didn’t even try to make some of the villain stand-off situations in the end rational — and an ending that felt rushed and “phoned in” in its screenwriting (and thus not very satisfying), I still had a decent time in the theater as Blart unleashes his mall cop heroism on the Wynn Resort.
There were scenes that had me (and the theater) laughing out loud and/or at least amused and smiling: the Cirque du Soleil scene, the good guy/villain stand-off conversations between Kevin James and Neal McDonough, the funny, melodramatic-yet-somehow-weirdly-inspiring keynote address from Blart at the convention, the suitcase-down-the-stairs scene, and the goofy tension that develops between Blart and the general manager of the hotel — to name a few.
One thing is certain: Paul Blart and Cirque du Soleil are an, ah, interesting mix.
Worldview/Themes of Redemption
Paul Blart, in his keynote address at the mall cop convention, sums up the film’s theme in one sentence: “If you don’t serve anyone but yourself, you have no purpose.” Say what you want about this film’s weaknesses, at least it has a selfless character in Paul Blart who really does live to serve others — though in this film he has some personal barriers to overcome before he can return to that selfless mentality. He does overcome them, of course, and when he stops focusing on himself and his problems he is able to beat the bad guys, save the day, and be a better father along the way.
There’s no overt religious worldview in this film. This is a Segway-centric movie for believers in gyroscope-based transportation. It does, however, have a great message.
I know there were corners cut with the writing of this movie, which did really come across as very lazy, but I still had a decent time. I don’t have any problems with Kevin James’s comedic style. The concept — the ambitious, goofy do-gooder on a Segway — still makes me laugh. And we get to see this concept play out in the extravagant bigness of Vegas. It’s silly. It’s ridiculous. But that’s the point.
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