The success of this wholly unremarkable movie is frankly surprising. Over a month after its initial release it is still hovering near the bottom of the box office top 10 list. I freely admit I don’t get the appeal. Male lead Kevin James is just not that funny, his mustache is really irritating, and his sad sack shtick doesn’t strike me as all that side-splitting. I am not even really sure why he rates this kind of indulgent vanity project. It works (barely) as a Die Hard satire, but completely falls flat in the cop comedy genre (Dragnet. Hot Fuzz. Bad Lieutenant. Now there are some funny movies about cops that made me laugh out loud). 
  Once upon a time, Paul Blart (Kevin James) wanted to enter the New Jersey State Police Academy. He ran the course well, only to pass out due to hypoglycemia. See, in the original Die Hard, it was the broken glass and cut-up feet that “die hard” had to cope with; here it is a sugar problem.  The similarities will continue.
  {mosimage}Blart lives with his mother (Shirley Knight?  What has she been doing since As Good As it Gets?) and daughter (Raini Rodriguez, who is playing this role with far too much pose and maturity). He supports his little family with a mall security job at a really awesome mall which has BOTH a Teavana AND a Rainforest Café. Unfortunately, he gets no respect, despite taking his job three times as seriously as everyone else. Over an introductory dinner, the exposition fairy sprinkles plot points throughout the dialogue, setting up the character relationships and weaknesses.
  Blart is assigned to train Veck Sims (Keir O’Donnell, who is scheduled to appear in five movies this year). During their special time, Blart meets and fixates on a kiosk owner, Amy (Jayma Mays…OMG it’s CHARLIE from Heroes!). She seems to be pretty into him, which is kind, but not at all believable. She invites him out for drinks with the rest of the mall employees, including that guy from Old School, that guy from The Wedding Singer, and that guy from For Love or Money.
  The action kicks into gear (a little too late in the movie, honestly) on Black Friday, when a group of robbers codenamed for Santa’s eight tiny reindeer (and Rudolph) seize the mall while Blart is playing in the arcade. Again, just like in Die Hard, Blart has outside assistance (only through a cell phone instead of a walkie-talkie). His partner, Pahud (Adhir Kalyan) assists him at several crucial moments.
  The robbers are planning to use the mall’s credit card records to steal $30 million, although I may have dozed off while they were explaining exactly how that was supposed to work. The unlikely hero (except, since this is a movie, obviously he is the likely hero) manages to take out the bad guys (and one bad girl), but will he get his dream girl? 
  If nothing else, it seems like Happy Madison productions tried to make a nice little family comedy without being too mean about it (fat jokes aside).  The humor is a little crude but not over the top, and the family scenes are nicely written even if they seem a little too forced. But the narrative is very inconsistent, the timeline confusing, and the character motivations are completely puzzling. So, three stars for making me smile, but there’s really nothing else exciting to talk about.

Contact Heather Griffifths at editor@upandcomingweekly.com

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