Fatty fall down… again…
Poor old Kevin James. The worst mistake he has ever made in his comedic life is becoming Adam Sandler’s buddy. Sure he gave him a foot in the door with roles which brought him attention to kickstart his career, but after a few years of creative success, he has stooped to just above Sandler-levels of uncaring & poor career choices. Look at this summer’s Pixels for a side-by-side comparison of these two literally forcing an unfunny and particularly dodgy take of comedy onto the modern day audience.
And to think this is the same guy which could inject a certain amount of charisma into a poor looking film about a shopping mall security officer and make it very watchable. With the runaway success in 2009 of Paul Blart: Mall Cop when he was still giving a damn, James’ return for a follow up was all but inevitable. Does a sequel six years later have any hope of matching up to the highs of the original? Absolutely not.
Paul Blart (James, Grown Ups 2) is still an uptight & clueless but well meaningful accredited security officer of a shopping mall in New Jersey after saving the day on Black Friday. After a quick divorce & the death of his mother, Paul only has his daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez, Austin & Ally) left in his life, as she weighs up whether to go to UCLA or not. Paul gets invited to a ‘mall cop’ convention in a posh hotel in Las Vegas whilst at the same time a gang of art thieves plan to rob the prized ornaments. ‘Hilarity’ ensues.
I’ll give James some credit – he has not switched off from his acting performances. Yet. He does seem at home in the Blart character but it doesn’t seem as intense as the first outing. His on-off relationship with his daughter as they argue over her going away to LA for university rather than being sensible & staying at home in New Jersey with him is fairly engaging, although I don’t think it really hits the family aimed emotional high notes of fatherly loneliness and ambition it’s going for. “Safe” is what they’re going with it which is fine but you get the feeling it would be enhanced with a bit more oomph from James. Some credit where it is due, this is way better than his broken President of the USA he played in Pixels. Away from him, everyone else is just here and represents a frantic stereotype, rather than a rounded character. The art thief leader is eccentric. The latino lady is hot. The hotel security officer has begrudging respect for Blart. You can tell there was not alot of effort put into the supporting cast and it shows badly.
There is something that seems very off about the production for Paul Blart 2. I don’t know if it’s simply down to that they waited about two to three years too long and previous crew members, like the first movie’s director, have moved on. It doesn’t come off as slick and well made anymore, which goes a long way to cover character and script errors. There’s some disgustingly noticeable over-dubbing from post-production and what’s worse it happens the best part of ten times. I’m not exaggerating – there’s about ten lines what were rerecorded and dumped back in the film with no effort to mix back in with the original audio properly. Everything is foreshadowed including the fun convention mall cop ‘toys’ and there is barely a surprise to hit you out of nowhere and enjoy. The worst aspect is that they’re using Las Vegas as a location so you expect some casino & LV-based fun capers. But no, not really. Aside from Blart running into a Cique de Soleil-esque performance, a ‘Paul loses everything on the tables’ 30 second joke & a zipline between two of LV’s hotels, there’s nothing to appreciate the playpit the production has chosen to gave have some fun in. Okay, there are those I’ve mentioned but at most they’re about seven minutes out of a 90 minute runtime. The ratio is off somewhat.
Here’s the thing – I went into this WANTING to be entertained. I want to have a laugh at some decent jokes. Sadly there is a distinct and noticeable lack of effort in the writing to come up with a new one. Whilst I never expect perfection in films, I want to see progression towards it & Paul Blart 2 places its feet firmly down into the ground and folds its arms, refusing to raise a foot towards anything fresh. Everything here is so old hat in comedy, it’s an insult to old hats. Racial slurs & mocking stereotypes. Sassy African-Americans. Old women being punched. Fights with animals. It’s all been done before and there’s nothing I can really say which constitutes an evolution of comedy. The fact that in 2015 people sat down and wrote this dreck, with the thought that “Yeah this is hilarious”, is stunning.
Is there anything worth salvaging from this mess then? Well oddly there are a couple of decent scenes. The squaring off between Blart & his fellow mall cops against a hoard of art thief goons is… not bad at all actually. It’s a well done piece of slo-mo slapstick fighting in which we haven’t seen in awhile, with people ‘accidentally’ KO’ing different opponents through mistakes and wrapping each other up in capes. It’s very Three Stooges but mildly entertaining. I did enjoy the zipwire joke as well where about halfway down the zip, Paul gets stuck nudges it over a pesky tangle before resuming his screaming. These are at the back end of the film and don’t amount to too much time but there is some merit I can give to Paul Blart 2 & being honest I was considering giving a lower score below if it wasn’t for these two moments.
As a DVD release to buy, prepare for a big cop-like rectal examination in the butt. Proudly slapped on the back of the cover beams “Get the Blu-Ray to see more bonus features!” No. I can not in my right mind emplore you to buy a product that gives the middle finger and tells you to go buy a different version to get all the bonuses. The only two bonuses we get are a mini cast documentary about themselves on set and a directorial look at each stage of filming, all with a “comedic” slant. When you throw in the fact that there is absolutely nothing else, this comes off as a pretty poor home release without the crutch of high production values in 1080p something like a Blu-ray would offer. That direction to go buy a different version is the final nail in the coffin for this DVD.
Cripplingly unfunny, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 feels like a film out of time. It’s a good couple of years late for a relevant sequel and the jokes & topics covered are archaic. One or two moments of comparable humour are lost amidst a poorly crafted production which leads you on brainlessly. James could do with a solo creative success in the eyes of his industry to reignite such a talented comedy actor but he does nothing to earn that accolade and adds to a creative trainwreck of a 2015 for him. With a DVD proudly asking you to go buy the Blu-ray instead, it’s a bit of a cue to ignore this one. Paul Blart 2 might be a considered a family film but truth be told if any of my family members suggested watching this again, I’d consider leaving them and starting a new one.
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