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Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 5/19/2009

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/18/2009

As the point of this website is the reviewing of DVD and Blu-ray Discs, when I get a movie, I review it. But, sometimes, I have my own personal agenda for wanting to review a film. In most cases, the movie will be something which I wanted to see, but missed in theaters. Other times, it will be a movie which was viciously maligned by critics and the filmgoing public, and I want to see if it's really that bad. And other times, I just want to see what all of the hype is about. That's the case with Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

Kevin James stars in the title role in Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Paul works security at a popular shopping mall, but his dream is to be a New Jersey state trooper. Unfortunately, due to his hypoglycemia, he can't pass the obstacle course. So, he's stuck working the mall job, but he takes his patrols very seriously (and is often ridiculed by the other guards for this). He lives with his daughter, Maya (Raini Rodriguez), and his mother (Shirley Knight). Paul finds Amy (Jayma Mays), the owner of the new hair extension and wig kiosk, attractive, but he gets nervous when he tries to talk to her. On the day after Thanksgiving, a group of armed robbers storm the mall, intent on stealing the credit card funds. Paul is about to exit the mall when he realizes that Amy has been taken hostage. Now it's time for the main who everyone laughed at to put all of his intense training to use.

If I had fallen into a coma-like state at the beginning of the year and had just awoken this week and the first thing that I did was watch Paul Blart: Mall Cop (which, let's face it, would be a pretty weird first thing to do), I would not have believed you when you told me that the movie had grossed nearly $150 million. (I can only imagine that I would be very incredulous in the my post-coma-like state.) In fact, I can't see many people believing that fact. Nothing about Paul Blart: Mall Cop screams blockbuster...well, not unless you're referring to the store where most people assumed that they'd be getting the movie as opposed to seeing it in the theater.

But, all of that stream-of-consciousness aside, Paul Blart: Mall Cop was a huge hit. Having now seen it, I have to say that I'm surprised. Not because it's a terrible movie, but because it's such an innocuous movie. Perhaps that's why it made so much money. Given the PG rating, I can only imagine that many youngsters and families went to see the movie -- perhaps on multiple occasions. But, despite the PG rating, there is some violence in the movie, as well as an incredibly long scene where Paul gets drunk, so I'm not sure if I would want my kids watching this. (That statement was a bit too wishy-washy. I did not let my children watch this.)

If nothing else, Paul Blart: Mall Cop is sort of a weird movie. The basic premise is a homage to movies like Die Hard. In fact, there are a few scenes which are direct nods to Die Hard. I can't help but wonder if at some point, someone was planning to make a more serious film out of this idea. This "Die Hard in a mall" idea is married to a slapstick comedy where falls back on physical humor time and time again. There are a few funny lines in the film, but for the most part, the movie is relying on the idea of Paul falling down to carry it. Things are made even stranger by the robbers, who ride skateboards and BMX bikes and rarely brandish weapons. This was clearly done to achieve that coveted PG rating and to appeal to a younger crowd, but it also comes across as incredibly cheesy and reminded me of the kind of thugs that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would come across. The movie is also oddly edited, and there are sudden jumps in the story. And I would love for someone to explain to me how the person who enters the mall in the middle of the film got past all of the police.

I rarely, if ever, consider myself part of the mainstream, but there are times when I look at what America loves and scratch my head (I'm looking at you American Idol). Again, Paul Blart: Mall Cop isn't a bad movie. It's a fairly average comedy with a dose of action. It's the kind of thing that you'd rent, watch once, and forget about it. So, why did it take off? I honestly have no idea. Maybe with everything that's going on in the world right now, people needed an escape. Whatever the case, this is a mediocre comedy. James shows that he can do something slightly different from King of Queens, and the cast is game, but you can feel secure in knowing that this film is no big deal.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop has no true authority on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look very good, most notably reds and blues. The image is never overly dark or bright. There is some mild artifacting at times, and some visible haloes around the actors. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good, most notably those which occur when the mall is crowded. The action scenes and the musical cues provide good surround sound, and the rear speaker action is impressive for a comedy. Likewise, some of the action scenes deliver solid subwoofer action.

The Paul Blart: Mall Cop DVD contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY with Kevin James and Producer Todd Garner. This is a fairly entertaining commentary, but not as funny as one would have hoped. (Sort of like the movie.) The two talk about the locations and the actors and they are quick to point out any miscues in the movie. The DVD offers ten DELETED SCENES which run about 12 minutes. Most of these are quite brief and would have added little to the film. The two longest scenes, which involve on-line dating pictures and a lost little boy, contain a few laughs. However, none of these scenes reconcile what feel like huge jumps in the film. We get eleven FEATURETTES which run about 50 minutes. Utilizing a great deal of comments from the cast and crew and a nice amount of on-set footage, we see many elements of the film's production. The piece looks at the origin of the story, the use of skate boarders in the film, stunts, and shooting in a real mall. Much of this feels very redundant as a lot of it deals with the extreme sports figures who are in the film. Apparently the people who put together the extras for this DVD thought that a lot of X-Games fans were going to be checking out the special features.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long