The once genial Paul Blart has become tiresome
The original Paul Blart: Mall Cop was by no means a comedic gem, but it was a genial film with a character that was likable because he helped put a face to those uniformed officers we see exercising authority around our local malls. It took a demographic that is often patronized and laughed at and gave those individuals a heroic quality, whilst still allows its titular character to be a goofball himself. It was a silly little film that almost won my heart. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 however, isn’t even entitled to an eighth of my heart. Material that was once passably genial has grown up and become tiresome drivel that attempts to get the laughs out of its viewers by obtaining jokes that constitute as the low-hanging fruit. In just one two minute trailer for the film, I counted Kevin James falling five times, which shows exactly the kind of humor you’re in for with this particular film.
The story needs little exposition: Paul Blart (Kevin James), who we saw marry at the end of original film, is now divorced after a marriage that lasted only six days and his mother died after being hit by a milk truck, leaving his daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez) as the closest remaining relative he has. Blart still keeps his mall safe and takes his job very seriously, which he feels is a feat that will be recognized at the upcoming security convention and seminar he’ll be attending in Las Vegas. However, when he discovers that the Wynn Hotel, where he and his daughter are staying, is being raided for its art by a group of thugs, Blart must find a way to take down the criminals while employing the integrity he has long possessed to keep his mall safe.
The most immediate and, in turn, fatal flaw of the film is Blart himself. A character that was once charming for his goofiness and the way he upheld honor at his job has now turned into a mean-spirited, pompous narcissist who overcompensates the importance of his job. If this kind of attitude was reserved for scenes like Blart addressing a conference of other mall cops, then that would be one thing, but throughout the entire film Blart possesses an uneasy superiority complex that undermines the abilities of his daughter, his peers, and Davina Martinez (Daniella Alonso), the Wynn’s general manager who can’t stop herself from falling for him. If the original film made us appreciate mall cops a bit more, this one rekindles our worst stereotypes about them.
On top of that, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is so drearily repetitive in its gags, and this time, we don’t even have a real colorful or lively mall setting to look at. Everything is slicker and more overblown, with Blart finding a whole new inventory of weaponry, physical tricks, and even a new motorized vehicle to employ, all of which does nothing but take a formerly simple concept and extend it past credulous principles. Paradoxically, the fact things are being taken to the next level should mean something significant for the story, but here, it just destroys the simplicity of the original story and cannot find a way to make up for it.
Kevin James has never been an unlikable actor, but more of an actor frequently victim to shallow characters. Here, however, watching him be so demeaning to those around him is something that wears on one rather quickly. Then there’s the extra elements of the film being a monotonous array of sight gags and other mindless humor that simply degrades whatever meager impact the original film had on us. While “offensive” just doesn’t seem to be the right word for Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, “unlikable” certainly paints a more accurate and defining picture.