I’d read quite a lot about the success of Paul Blart: Mall Cop in the build up to me actually putting the disc for it in my player. Much of it, to be fair, wasn’t very polite. More worryingly, a lot of it was downright snobbish. So what if the film made over $150m at the US box office and Watchmen didn’t? People get to choose what to spend their free time on, and if a light-hearted comedy took precedence over one of the most ambitious comic book adaptations of all time, then who are we to judge?
That said, anyone who picked Paul Blart over Watchmen is, surely, a fool.
(This introduction was brought to you by the hit book, ‘How To Offend Half Of Your Readers In Two Paragraphs’, hitting bookshops the other side of never. I suspect I know a few other writers who have a copy, though).
Let’s put some perspective on this. Before The Hangover came along, Paul Blart: Mall Cop was Hollywood’s most successful comedy in some time. I know I bang on about Role Models a lot, but that’s because it genuinely had a good number of solid guffaws by the time the end credits rolled. Paul Blart? It had none. At most, a few chuckles, but no solid belly laugh.
What it does have, in its defence, is Kevin James. I thought he was the best thing in the Adam Sandler hit I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, and while he wasn’t perhaps worthy of a lead role in quite the way Paul Rudd was once upon a time, he’s the front and centre of Paul Blart, and its main asset. He makes Blart, the failed police cadet and mall security guard of the title, a likeable character, who inevitably goes through the motions that you can map out as soon as the miniscule semblance of plot falls into place. People sneer at him! He can’t get a girlfriend! He tried online dating! His wife left him! Surely if there’s a stereotypical character calling out for a movie to turn his life around, Paul Blart is it.
And that’s what happened, but not quite in the way I was expecting. For the film does, after a laboured opening act, switch into some degree of form when it turns into a light version of Die Hard, albeit in a shopping mall. It’s still easy to map out what’s going to happen, but I appreciated the change of tone nonetheless. Thus, Blart has to rescue hostages, save the day, take out the bad guys, and generally use the layout of the mall to his advantage. Which – and I don’t think I’m giving the game away here – he does, readily primed for a sequel. ‘Mall Harder’, anyone?
Paul Blart: Mall Cop emerges through all of this as a perfectly amiable, generally inoffensive little movie, that plays strictly within its comfort zone, and relies heavily on the likeability of its lead actor to see it through. It’s not a very good comedy, and it’s not a particularly involving action movie. But it is a good vehicle for its star, and does scrape an hour and a half of entertainment together. It’ll be interesting to see if the inevitable sequel ups the ante in any way, but when the formula has such financial rewards, don’t expect a single risk to be taken when Paul Blart drives up on his Segway once more.
The Disc The Blu-ray presentation I thought was, in visual terms at least, fairly indistinctive. The picture is sound, but there were few moments where I felt I was looking at the image of a high definition film I’d paid a few extra quid for the privilege of over the DVD. The audio was better, with an active sound mix, and that’s the element of your rig that’s going to get the better workout here. There’s nothing close to reference material here, though.
There’s a generous smattering of extras, although they’re all fairly templated. The passable commentary – with Kevin James and producer Todd Garner – is about your best bet here, although it’s by no means essential. Then there’s a smattering of featurettes that are all a bit piecemeal and not hugely interesting. Likewise, the deleted scenes are little to write home about. No gag reel, either, which is usually worth a spin on a comedy DVD.
In short, like the film itself, it’s an extras collection full of harmless fluff, and not a great deal else.
The Film:The Disc:
Paul Blart: Mall Cop is released on Blu-ray on August 10.