Tuesday, April 14, 2009

PAUL BLART: MALL COP - Light Comedy About Fat Guy

Cast: Kevin James, Jayma Mays, Keir O'Donnell, Bobby Cannavale, Stephen Rannazzisi and Shirley Knight
Director: Steve Carr
Time: 87 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? A bunch of armed robbers take over a building and hold some customers at a bank hostage. A cop stumbles on to the scene and discovers that his loved ones are among the hostages. Instead of relying on the SWAT team to take action, he single-handedly thwarts the villains' plans and tries to rescue the hostages.

A remake of Die Hard?

Not really. This is actually a spoof of it.

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? Well, ladies and gentlemen, meet our latest hero, Paul Blart, a security guard at a New Jersey shopping mall. Played with gusto by Kevin James (Adam Sandler's other half in I Pronounce You Chuck & Larry), this movie raked in about US$40 million on its opening weekend (Jan 16-19, 2009) - a feat that surprised even its producers. Paul Blart: Mall Cop stayed at Number One over the next weekend and has collected US$163 million (RM570 million) worldwide so far. Not bad for a movie produced at US$26 million (RM90 million).

Hence, what we are looking at is the breakthrough of James as a bankable actor, a far cry from his days as TV's King Of Queens.

HITS & MISSES: Apparently the well-rounded Kevin James has become America's Next Top Comedy Star (as opposed to comedian). James is easy to like because his brand of comedy is not as crude and crass as Sandler, and he is not so full of himself as Jim Carrey. His humour is mainly self-deprecating and as Paul Blart, he has a problem with hypoglycaemia, a medical condition resulting from dangerously low levels of sugar in the blood. This means he tends to 'run out of battery' everytime he gets an attack - and he must counter it by constantly eating sweet stuff.

Besides the Die Hard rescue action, which tends to be rather ridiculous, we also have a cute courtship with Jayma Mays playing Paul's love interest, Amy. If anything, this attempt at romantic comedy helps to win our sympathy for the bumbling Blart who has always dreamt of being a real cop.

Another plus for this movie is its PG rating - no foul language and no fart or toilet jokes. There aren't many laugh-out-loud situations either but there is a sense of upbeat fun watching a fat guy riding a Segway (electric carrier) and pretending to kick bad ass.

THE LOWDOWN: Lightweight humour about a heavyweight security guard.


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