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A Blart of a Sequel

Columbia Pictures
 94 Minutes
Rated: PG
Directed byAndy FIckman
Starring: Kevin James, Neal McDonough
Paul Blart Mall Cop 2

How long did it take me to realize that Paul Blart Mall Cop 2, the sequel to the surprise Kevin James comedy hit of 2009, was going to be a disaster? About two minutes, the length of time it took for the film to dispatch Paul’s supportive mother (Shirley Knight) from the original in a stunningly unfunny sight gag in which she gets run over by a milk truck. Actually, that scene is a good indicator of things to come in the sequel since Blart himself gets run over, or, alternatively, runs into objects about a dozen times in the movie. Sadly, Blart is far more durable than his mother. I say sadly because, had one of his mishaps proved fatal, the audience would have been spared as much as 90 minutes of viewing pain.


Most mediocre movie sequels make the mistake of trying to make a near exact duplicate of the original movie. If only James (who co-wrote the script) and director Andy Fickman had stuck to the original formula, the result would have been a mediocre but possibly passable sequel. Instead, they make several changes, every one of which is for the worse. The most significant change is in the character of Blart himself. Gone is the likable but hapless sad sack who proves resourceful in a pinch despite his substantial girth. In its place is an equally hapless but considerably more obnoxious jerk… an Oliver Hardy replacing a rotund Stan Laurel.


Blart still has his job at the mall in New Jersey and his loving daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez, the best feature of both Blart films), but he may be about to lose her since she’s been accepted at UCLA and is debating how to break the news to Dad. Blart’s outlook on life becomes a bit brighter when he receives and accepts an invitation to a security officers’ convention at the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas. The convention gives him the opportunity to be rude, clueless, or both in every single scene, as he insults the various hotel personnel trying to wait on him.


The person who fares the worst, both at the hands of Blart and the screenplay, is Divina (Daniela Alonso), the hotel’s general manager who Blart suggests is coming on to him because, well, women naturally come on to Paul Blart. To make matters worse, she actually does start falling for him even though he has shown not one single redeeming quality to that point in the movie.


As in the original film, Paul stumbles onto a major crime in progress in Blart 2. A group of top notch art thieves led by Vincent (Neal McDonough) are systematically stealing the valuable masterpieces on display at the casino and replacing them with fakes. When Paul eventually tries to stop them and shows some actual police smarts for a change (figuring out a hotel security guard is a phony because his uniform isn’t accurate), Vincent demonstrates the real reason Maya’s character is in the movie, namely to provide a convenient hostage for Paul to rescue when needed.


The script of Blart 2 does give Paul some help from one unlikely and one likely source. The unlikely source is the fellow security contingent at the convention whose members rally to Paul’s defense when needed. The movie seems to have selected actors for these roles on the basis of finding the ugliest and stupidest appearing actors around, presumably so that Kevin James will look good in comparison to them. All would be well and good if any of these actors were actually funny, but the funniest character in the movie is actually a CGI-animated peacock that gets into a fight with Paul and completely outclasses him.


None of Kevin James’s human co-stars outclass him; they seem to be just as stupid as he is. That applies to the villains as well, who all seem to have received lobotomies before the start of the movie’s final act to enable Paul to outsmart them. Neal McDonough fares worst of all, as he is reduced to bandying silly insults back and forth with Kevin James. The rest of them have to pretend to be even clumsier than Paul and his fellow security guards so they can lose every showdown in less than convincing fashion.


When Paul Blart isn’t acting like a stupid obnoxious jerk, he’s acting like the most clueless father in the history of clueless movie parents. Of course, his overprotective nature completely alienates his daughter so she sneaks out of their hotel suite to meet up with some kids her age and attend a party. And just as predictably, he assumes she’s been kidnapped and contacts hotel security, causing an even more massive embarrassment for poor Maya. Apprently, Paul and his daughter never had a single conversation in their entire lives that didn’t revolve around food or the world of law enforcement.


There are a handful of amusing jokes in Blart 2, but, for the most part, the movie goes for pratfalls, somehow assuming that the mere sight of Kevin James pretending to be a badly out-of-step member of the Cirque du Soleil troupe is hilarious. It’s not. But at least it’s not as embarrassing as a scene in which the hypoglycemic Paul Blart tries to wiggle undernearth a child holding an ice cream cone so he can catch a bit of the dripping ice cream. That may well be the nadir of Kevin James’s entire career.


Paul Blart 2 is another lowbrow comedy from Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company, but, at least, the script avoids the usual crudities present in Madison films and merits its PG rating. Audiences desperate for family entertainment can spend a couple of hours without covering their children’s ears, and they also get a conveniently packaged affirmation of the value of family at the end. Sadly, they also get an affirmation about screenwriting stupidity and juvenile slapstick filmmaking as well. Paul Blart 2 should be arrested for impersonating a comedy.


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Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (2015) on IMDb