Paul Blart Mall Cop
Kevin James is a winner at playing guys who are losers—in this case a pudgy, hypoglycemic mall security guard named Paul Blart. Incredibly loyal and absolutely serious about his desire to protect the New Jersey shopping destination, Paul works his beat on a Segway with the fervor of his dream to be a real police officer. While looking for crime around every corner, the mall cop also accepts the assignment to train Veck (Keir O’Donnell), the newest recruit to the security force. As part of the orientation, he demonstrates the kind of psychological weaponry he deems necessary to get their job done right.
Yet, for all of his bravado, the enforcer without a gun withers whenever he passes by Amy (Jayma Mays), a newly hired employee who works at a kiosk in the mall. Making matters worse is another kiosk sales clerk, Stuart (Stephen Rannazzisi), who swoons with smoothness around women and takes great delight in making Paul feel small about being big around the middle.
Fortunately, fate intervenes and gives the wannabe hero the perfect opportunity to show what he’s really made of when a team of thieves make their way into the mall just before closing on Black Friday. Taking half-a-dozen hostages, including Amy, the gang thinks they have their heist in the bag—until they realize Mr. Blart is still on the loose.
Created by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions, a label usually associated with edgy content and crude humor (like I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and You Don’t Mess With the Zohan), it was a bit unexpected to see this film awarded a PG-rating from the MPAA. Yet, even with the recent leniency that ratings category seems to be experiencing (movies like Marley and Me and Bride Wars both earned PG ratings in spite of having some “mature” moments), parents will be pleasantly surprised to discover Paul Blart Mall Cop does keep its potential offensiveness under a relatively tight reign.
Violence will likely be the biggest concern, with depictions of gunplay (some shots are fired), an explosion and one-on-one scuffles where people are subdued with a variety of “convenient” objects—the most popular being Paul’s rather large size. As well, a child’s safety is put at risk and a dog is presumably injured or killed. In other scenes, a woman’s shirt is pulled up and her bra is partially seen during an altercation with a security guard, and a man becomes intoxicated. Also, a couple of veiled sexual remarks are heard, along with a few mild profanities and terms of deity.
By keeping things a little more “real” and avoiding extreme over-the-top scenarios, this moderately engaging comedy manages to offer some good laughs while providing lessons about self-esteem, body image and making the best of a difficult situation. And that makes Paul Blart: Mall Cop someone you might want to introduce to your teens.