Review: Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
PLOT: Paul Blart (Kevin James) with his daughter (Raini Rodriguez) in tow heads to Las Vegas after being invited to speak at a security trade-show. While there, he stumbles upon an art-heist masterminded by a high-tech thief (Neal McDonough) and his (inept) crew.
REVIEW: If there's a dark side to being a film critic, folks you better believe this is it. For all the perks (and there are many) every once in a while, we have to suffer through a real dog like PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2. And boy oh boy, this is probably the worst time I've had at a movie theater since oh I dunno the last Happy Madison production I sat through (was it BLENDED?).
In the spirit of fairness, I will say this I never saw the original PAUL BLART: MALL COP. Suffice to say, the intricacies of the sequel didn't escape me. It's actually quite sad how deeply unfunny this is. Kevin James seems like a nice guy. But he's just not funny or at least not in movies like this. When guys like him, who rely on man-child shtick, hit middle-age, it becomes really quite sad watching them try desperately to wring laughs out of such horribly unfunny material. In James' case, this means lots of running around screaming, lots of funny faces, lots of tripping and lots of bumping into things. Unless you're eight years old or under, there's not much here to laugh at, except the desperation of it all.
What's worse is that while I can laugh at how bad a Sandler movie is because he just clearly doesn't care anymore (although hopefully that'll change with PIXELS) James seems to genuinely want to do a good job. A few years ago, he slimmed down considerably and put out a pretty solid movie HERE COMES THE BOOM which tanked. Fast-forward to a few years later and the weight's back on with him doing the same tired stuff he was trying to break away from. I will give James some credit though for a big man he moves really well and seems to have Bud Spencer-style reserves of energy. Sad to say, that's not nearly enough to make this any less of an ordeal.
There's really absolutely nothing about PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2 that makes it worth watching. For one thing, this is clearly a case where the studio probably sensed the audience was diminishing, so they did it on the cheap. Like a few other sequels (THINK LIKE A MAN TOO, MISS CONGENIALITY 2) this is set in Las Vegas (I assume the tax credits are great) meaning lots of product placement (the hench-woman wears an Apple Watch which gets a loving close-up), with the most obvious of all being the Wynn resort, with Steve Wynn himself getting a cameo a reference that will likely be lost of the kids this is meant for (I assume it's to get their parents to go there on vacation).
As far as laughs go, there really are none unless you think watching Kevin James fight a CGI bird is funny (a CGI critter fight is a Happy Madison staple). Neal McDonough as the bad guy doesn't get to show any of that Quarles-Justified craziness until the very end, while a subplot about an amorous hotel employee (who looks like a cross between Eva Mendes and Sofia Vergara) who pursues Blart falls flat. Jayma Mays from the first film is written out of the sequel, while Shirley Knight is hit by a milk truck in the first five minutes (no idea why Grandma's death is supposed to be funny). She's one of the lucky ones. Of the cast, the only one who shows any liveliness is Raini Rodriguez as Blart's far-more-clever daughter.
Obviously PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2 is a disaster, but I'm sure really (really) young kids may like it when it hits Netflix, even though it'll drive their parents crazy. As for James, I can't imagine he'll be standing on the Segway again any time soon unless a company like Netflix green-lights a micro-budget sequel. For his sake I hope that doesn't happen.