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Paul Blart: Mall Cop - Review

Kevin James in Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

IT’S a simple concept: Take Die Hard and relocate it into a shopping mall with an overweight security guard replacing Bruce Willis as the unlikely saviour of the day.

The humour almost inevitably involves plenty of fat jokes, but somehow works because its leading man, Kevin James, maintains such a likeable presence.

James is, of course, the charismatic comedian who practically stole romantic comedy Hitch from under Will Smith’s nose, and who was a firm television favourite as the King of Queens for nine years.

In Paul Blart: Mall Cop he gets a star vehicle and duly rises to the challenge, turning Blart into a loveable loser who takes his job as a security guard at a New Jersey mall way too seriously. Smitten by new wig seller Amy (Jayma Mays) and saddled with a new partner (Keir O’Donnell), Blart is determined to make a good impression upon both.

And his shot comes when a group of thieves take over the mall and head for the bank on Black Friday, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.

Steve Carr’s movie is nowhere near as funny as it should have been but it does have its moments. James remains an endearing presence throughout and always has you rooting for him no matter how embarrassing some of his exploits become.

There are also some good nods to the Die Hard franchise, while the unlikely romantic sub-plot between James and Mays is nicely played and includes a really nice scene between the two of them on a personal transporter.

On the downside, not every joke hits and there are a lot that feel too mean-spirited, while certain characters also grate and feel like the product of an Adam Sandler production (he produces). The final confrontation is also needlessly drawn out and includes one set piece too many.

But thanks to James’ winning central performance and the sheer abandon with which he throws himself into the stuntwork, it’s hard to be too critical. So while Paul Blart may get in its own way a lot of the time, much like its central character, its heart is in the right place and it just about wins you over.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 91mins
UK Release Date: March 18, 2009