Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 Parent Review
Even if "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" isn't worthy of cinematic acclaim, it still holds a place in the pecking order of the suburban multiplex.
I knew the moment I left the screening of this film that my review would be an outlier within the realm of sophisticated critical assessment. Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 epitomizes what virtually every critic loves to hate. The writing isn’t sharp, most of the performances range from mediocre to uninspiring, and the plot is contrived with a conclusion that offers no surprise. Fifteen minutes in, I was ready to hop on board the hate-train, until I realized that my theater was full of young people laughing, while I was smugly enduring. And that’s when my change of perspective occurred.
This film comes from Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions, a pop culture factory that cranks out title after title that I have not cared to see. What’s unusual about the pair of Paul Blart films, compared to their edgier Happy Madison cousins, is the PG rating. Most Sandler epics push the PG-13 envelope to the limit. This movie, with no sexual content or profanity, doesn’t even stretch the PG category—also amazing considering Sandler’s best comic buddy Kevin James is the star.
The story is built to work fast and simple. Blart (James) has been working in a New Jersey mall since his heroic feat on a busy Black Friday six years earlier. But life hasn’t been so kind to the rotund protector of commerce since then. The single dad found a new bride, only to have her leave days after the marriage. Recommitting himself to his job and teen daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez) his mundane life is finally interrupted by a new hope when he’s invited to a security guards’ convention in Las Vegas. And rumor has it that he will be the hero of the show and will be asked to deliver the keynote speech.
With Maya in tow, he arrives at the Wynn Resort in Vegas and is met by Lane, an eager young attendant (David Henrie) who immediately hits it off with Maya. That sets a side plot in motion where we learn this father feels a need to offer security to everyone, including his over-parented daughter. Soon we are also introduced to the “bad guy.” Vincent (Neal McDonough) lost a bundle at the resort’s casino during his last stay, and now he’s back with the hopes of taking some priceless art with him. Yup, we have all the ingredients for a father to demonstrate his bumbling abilities and head to a heroic conclusion.
Obviously there are violent confrontations that will take place, some of them with guns. And while one person is injured with a bullet, and others are threatened at gunpoint, the ongoing joke of security guards not being real cops keeps a lid on the carnage. While at the convention, Blart discovers a range of non-lethal weapons, like a beanbag gun and a pistol that covers the floor in marbles. The ubiquitous Taser is also used repeatedly on a character—something kids shouldn’t emulate. Perhaps the worst moment is near the beginning of the film when a milk truck suddenly strikes Blart’s mother. The incident happens quickly and is intended to be funny. Your mileage may vary.
Moving into more positive territory, the script offers positive body image messages. Even though Maya is a bigger girl, no particular mention is made of this during her encounters with Lane and his friends. Maya also proves she’s able to problem solve and her desire to become independent doesn’t diminish her appreciation for her dad.
Back to my new found perspective. I recalled being ten years old and watching movies with goofy villains and ridiculous concepts with stars like Don Knotts, Dean Jones, and Buddy Hackett. Back then I was laughing just as the kids next to me were with Kevin James. Today we look upon those films with sentimental distortion—but if I were an adult in 1968 sitting in a theater watching The Shakiest Gun in the West, I’m not sure I would have been any more engaged than I was in this movie. It’s easy to forget what makes a kid laugh. And even if this second Blart isn’t worthy of cinematic acclaim, it still holds a place in the pecking order of the suburban multiplex.Directed by Andy Fickman. Starring Kevin James, Raini Rodriguez, Eduardo Verástegui. Running time: 94 minutes. Theatrical release April 17, 2015. Updated May 18, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 here.
Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 Parents Guide
Talk about the movie with your family…
What are Paul Blart’s insecurities? How accurate do you think it is to represent security guards as being “wannabe” police? What aspects of your life leave you feeling vunerable?
How is body image presented in this movie? When is it used for comedic purposes? When is body size ignored or not a factor? How are larger people usually represented in movies?
What product placements do you see in this film? How does the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas benefit from this movie? Are you more curious about the hotel after watching this movie? Why are product placements in films more effective than traditional advertising?