In my original review of 2009's "Paul Blart: Mall Cop
," it was predicted that the film's title "may be reason enough for this tepid, instantly forgettable comedy to go belly-up at the box office. Seriously, does making a trip to the theater and spending ten bucks a pop to see something called 'Paul Blart: Mall Cop' sound appealing to anyone?" These words proved to be the opposite of prophetic when the movie opened at #1 with an astonishing weekend take of $31.8-million, then went on to earn a second weekend in the top spot and an overall domestic cume of over $146-million. Apparently, audiences were, in fact, clamoring to pay ten bucks a pop to see something called "Paul Blart: Mall Cop
." Due to the film's success, it is not shocking that a sequel would be made. In the arguably too-long six years it took for a follow-up installment, however, it doesn't look like Kevin James and Nick Bakay spent more than a quick afternoon writing the screenplay. As lame-brained as the earlier movie was, there was a simple heart-on-its-sleeve earnestness that glimmered in between the juvenile slapstick. The slapdash, desperately unfunny "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" cannot rise to even that modest claim.
It takes approximately thirty seconds for James and Bakay to undo any existing good will viewers might have for its predecessor when security guard Paul Blart's (Kevin James) new wife, Amy (Jayma Mays, seen only in archival footage from the first pic), sends him divorce papers after six days of marriage. Adding amazing insult to injury, they brutally murder Paul's sweet, doting mother (Shirley Jones) when she gets run over by a milk truck. Can we stop right here to ask who in their right mind would deem this to be a respectable or even remotely funny way to pick things back up? "Paul Blart: Mall Cop
" isn't exactly a sacred classic for the ages, but to make a mockery of and demolish its most likable elements is one of the year's biggest cinematic head-scratchers thus far. The second head-scratcher is that "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" is a movie that actually exists in the real world and not as a joke title in the background of a much better, infinitely more clever comedy.
Struggling to move on from the disappointments in his life, New Jersey mall officer Paul Blart (Kevin James) sees it as a sign that his luck might be turning around when he gets invited to the Security Officers Trade Association expo in Las Vegas. No sooner have he and 18-year-old daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez) checked in at the Wynn Resort when the two of them clash over his smothering ways and her plans for the future (she has been accepted to UCLA, but is afraid to break the news to him). When Maya stumbles upon a heist of the hotel's valuable artwork perpetrated by crooked shipping magnate Vincent Sofel (Neal McDonough), the only person who can save her, naturally, is her dad. Paul may be a harrowingly diabetic doofus, but he will let nothing stand in the way of saving Maya and taking down the bad guys.
"Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" succeeds only at being aggravating. Director Andy Fickman (2012's "Parental Guidance
") does not display any discernible understanding of how to properly set up, shoot or land a joke, but he is responsible for one of the more inadvertently skin-crawling moments in a recent family feature when Paul struggles to raise his blood sugar by lying under a melting ice cream cone as it dribbles all over his face like a substance that is decidedly not appropriate for a PG movie. Kevin James (2012's "Here Comes the Boom
"), returning as Officer Blart, has seen all of his character's charming qualities vanish, replaced by those of a clueless, obnoxious, misogynistic buffoon. Scenes where he punches out a peacock, steals a Segway and rides it into traffic, sabotages a Cirque du Soleil production, and gets violently kicked into a parked car by a horse are just a taste of what passes for humor in this wearisome romp. James is always a game player, but he's running on empty this time.
In an alternate universe, there is a film being released in April 2015 starring the adorable Raini Rodriguez (2011's "Prom
")delightful here as Maya, by the way, and worthy of the one-star rating. In this skewed reality, Rodriguez would be headlining a studio-made coming-of-age picture about a recent high school graduate whose newfound adult independence coincides with her first exciting, eye-opening trip away from home. She has some fun, falls in love, gets her heart broken, figures out what she wants to do with her future, and comes out the other side a changed person who has learned a little something about the truths of growing up. This film would be funny, and poignant, and real, and in Rodriguez would be a star-making performance that does her justice. There wouldn't be a mall cop in sight.