When the words ‘A Happy Madison Production’ appear on-screen during the opening credits of a film, it’s almost as if the filmmakers are giving the audience a superficial apology in advance. It might as well read; “We regret to inform you that this film will be neither funny nor entertaining, but since you suckers have already given us your money, we’re not really that sorry.” Maybe I’m being a bit too harsh; Adam Sandler’s production company did bless us with cross-cultural comedic genius of You Don’t Mess With The Zohan and the hilariously original I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.
If you can’t work out what the problem is with that last sentence, then my email is andersw[at]cutprintreview.com. Drop me a line; I’m intrigued to find out what’s wrong with you.
Before you do, let me just clarify; I do get that a film like Paul Blart: Mall Cop never tries to be a genre-redefining comedy, happy to be just light entertainment. Also, I am not shy of admitting that I have enjoyed low-brow comedies in the past; see my review of Role Models for proof. But if I’m squirming in my seat with apprehension when the film is clearly implying that I should be laughing, something has gone terribly amiss.
Mind you, I’m not really the target audience for this film, but that’s probably because no one is. Mall Cop takes the family friendly slapstick of Home Alone and mixes it with the premise of Die Hard. The result is neither; a little too mature for kids, a little too childish for adults.
Speaking of Bruce Willis’ action blockbuster; Mall Cop may as well be Die Hard 5: Try Harder. If you haven’t read the title, the film revolves around hefty Officer Paul Blart (Kevin James) whom proudly patrols a Shopping Mall on his Segway mortised scooter. Desperate for a lady in his life, Blart falls head-over-Segway for the Mall’s new stall owner Amy (Jayma Mays). On Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving, for us Australians), the shopping frenzy is cut short when a gang of organised skateboarding punks (a slight oxymoron) decide to take over the mall, aiming to drain the accounts from all the stores. The only person who manages to avoid being taken hostage is, of course, Officer Blart. John McClane, I mean… Paul Blart goes about taking on each crook one by one, aided by the police force waiting outside, determined to free Amy from her captors and ultimately take back control of ‘his’ Mall. Yippie-kye-aye-punk-robbers…
I might not have minded Mall Cop being a blatant Die Hard rip-off had it actually managed to be a funny parody of said film. Instead, Mall Cop rests the fate of its comedy predominantly on two running jokes; one has to do with the Segway as a mode of transport, the other has to do with fat people. Come the credits, I could count the times I laughed aloud on one finger.
At first, I would have said that Kevin James isn’t completely at fault for the glaring lack of humour, blaming the cringe worthy script instead, as his performance manages to pull ever so slightly on the sympathy strings. Then the closing credits revealed that James actually wrote the script, so it turns out I can hold him responsible after all. Yet by this time, James already has my money, so I’ve really got no one else to blame but myself…
Unfunny, unoriginal and tedious – Paul Blart: Mall Cop is successful only at living up to the standard set by past films that have begun with the words ‘A Happy Madison Production’.