There were many reasons why I never intended to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. I’d never seen the first movie. I don’t find Kevin James to be particularly entertaining (this is partially, but not entirely, Adam Sandler’s fault). And the trailer made it look like it contained an unhealthy amount of the kind of physical comedy that would make a vaudeville stage actor say, “Hey, you might want to dial it down a little.”
But then two things made me change my mind. It was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Picture, and it was the subject of a podcast made by some of my favorite movie masochists. That’s right — the wild and crazy guys from The Worst Idea of All Time podcast had just started a new annual tradition of watching and discussing Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. CLEARLY, these were both strong reasons for me to watch this movie!
So, the plot of the movie can be easily deduced from the trailers. Paul Blart became famous for doing whatever the hell he did in the first movie, and now he’s being recognized at a convention for security officers in Las Vegas. Hijinks ensue, as they so often do, and he has to rely on his security training and his ability to ride a Segway to save the day. Oh, and this time around he gets to use a variety of super-cool gadgets to defeat the bad guys. That’s the basic jist of the story.
First, let me start with a couple of things I didn’t expect but which pleasantly surprised me. I liked Blart’s daughter Maya a lot. I thought she was empathetic, and as realistic as she could be given the comedic framework of the movie. She’s cute without being stunning, she looks like a real kid, she’s funny, and she loves her father and is embarrassed by him at the same time.
I was also fall-on-the-floor ASTOUNDED to see Neal McDonough in this movie. Neal McDonough????? The guy I first came to love while watching him in Boomtown, but who also impressed me in such awesome series as Tin Man, Band of Brothers, and Justified?
Yeah, THAT guy, who I see as one of the most impressive actors of this generation, was in this doofy movie. Then again, while scrolling through his IMDB credits just now I see that he was also in I Know Who Killed Me, that totally ridiculous Lindsay Lohan horror movie.
So … yeah. I guess we all have to pay the rent. Or maybe he wanted a new car that week, or something.
ANY-way, Neal frigging McDonough is in this movie as the super-duper EEEEEVIL genius bad guy, and it was a lot of fun watching him be all evil and stuff.
But now it’s time for the “physical comedy” portion of our discussion. That’s the aspect of the movie that will either have you rolling on the floor laughing or grinding your teeth. Should you be entertained or offended? Can you be both? Where does humor cross the line? And will reactions always be divided across gender lines, or just MOSTLY across gender lines?
I guess my main issue is that whenever I laugh at somebody doing some ridiculous piece of physical comedy, my brain is always asking if I’m laughing at that person or with that person. I’m also wondering if it’s fair to laugh at somebody who’s falling down, or if it’s just mean-spirited. But then, if Kevin James co-wrote a script in which he repeatedly looks ridiculous for many reasons, including falling down, crawling around on the floor, etc. then … it’s okay to laugh, because he wrote it????
I’m sure my basic problem is that I’m overthinking a Kevin James movie, which understandably isn’t hard to do.
Anyway, there are several aspects to this film that will make you laugh, or if they don’t make you laugh they’ll at least make you shake your head in amused bewilderment. I could have done without QUITE so much “look at that guy falling down” humor, but then again I don’t think I’m the target demographic for this movie.