Paul Blart, Mall Cop: the hero we deserve

Photo courtesy of Rene Schwietzke via Wikimedia Commons.

I usually enjoy stirring up some controversy with my film reviews, so why should this one be any different? “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” is the best evidence I can possibly give against the defunding of the police. If we defund the police, men like Paul Blart (portrayed by sexy comedic genius Kevin James) will never get the chance to be heroes! Men like Paul Blart will never get the chance to save the day from a group of diverse hoodlums who want to rob an entire mall! Men like Paul Blart will never, ever get the chance to make their mothers (with whom they live) proud! The Paul Blarts out there will have to choose another occupation, and we all know that the last name “Blart” looks best on the badge of a mall security officer.

In my total and immersive exploration of “Paul Blart,” I have come across some pretty scathing reviews. Many film critics have noted that this film is “juvenile,” or “stagnant,” or “not funny,” or, most notably, “not even a film I would show to my 4-year-old son who is still very into ‘Captain Underpants.’” While I understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinion or whatever, I have to say that the aforementioned reviews prove that I am the only critic that truly knows how to watch comedic films. Us reviewers are not here to tell the public if things are “good” or “funny,” but rather whether they are indicative of a larger cultural conversation. This broader resonance is absolutely present in “Paul Blart.” We, as a society, are not discussing the real issues: the safety of mall security guards, the fact that Segways are kinda hard to ride and, most importantly, hypoglycemia in middle aged men. 

I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention the stellar cast and production in this film. To say Kevin James is the perfect Paul Blart would be like saying that hot dogs are the perfect mid-day snack, both of which are just true statements that I don’t think anyone would be willing to argue against. James brings nuance to each role. Take “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry,” for instance. Look, I’m not saying that “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry” paved the way for gay marriage to be legalized, I’m just saying that the film came out in 2007 and gay marriage was legalized in 2015. You do the math. Besides Kevin James, “Paul Blart” most notably features Jayma Mays (aka Emma Pillsbury from “Glee”) and Raini Rodriguez (aka Trish De la Rosa from the Disney Channel original series “Austin & Ally”). There has never been a film cast this influential and talented. And before my readers ask, yes I have seen the “Twilight” films. They don’t compare!

When production on this film started, the film crew hit a snag. The mall that they planned to shoot in actually declined to give them a permit. I can only imagine that this is how the conversation went: “Hey, can we have a permit to shoot in your mall?” “No.” The film pitch likely didn’t help. An unofficial summary of the film could read: Paul Blart rides on his Segway for 90 minutes and breaks some air vents because he had a nacho eating competition the day before. While this summary may seem crude or reductive, the nacho eating competition is actually the point at which I realized that Paul Blart is not just the hero the audience wants, he’s the hero the audience needs. We don’t deserve Paul Blart, but boy did we get him. I am eternally grateful for that.

If we dig deep into our personal psyches, I think we can all find a bit of Paul Blart in ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, some people definitely have more Blart in them than others, but on a deeply personal level, I truly believe that we all have a bit of Blart. For that, and because I want to give Paul Blart a hug, I give this film 15 fat jokes out of 16. You have done a great service to us all, Mr. Blart!

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