After the first Mall Cop movie earned US$180 million worldwide, you had to expect that more would follow. Financed by Adam Sandler’s production company, and written by Nick Bakay and the film’s star Kevin James, the sequel may be utterly predictable and play blatantly on stereotypes and well-worn gags, but there’s something amiable and engaging about the character of Paul Blart – a kind of action-cop version of Homer Simpson.
Six years on from the antics of the first movie, Blart (James) once again finds himself a single father. Still overweight, sporting a moustache and suffering from hypoglycaemia, he takes his equally large daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez) to Las Vegas for a security guards’ convention being held in a swanky casino. Once there, he quickly irritates the general manager Divina (Daniella Alonso) and her Head of Security Eduardo (Eduardo Verastegui) but has the chance to redeem himself when he gets mixed up with a group of deadly international art thieves led by Vincent (Neal McDonough) who are in the middle of an elaborate heist of precious items from the casino – including one of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.
The mindlessly silly plot and glitzy location are no more than an excuse for James to play out his affable brand of humour – mixing physical slapstick with a verbose running commentary of both grandiose and self-depreciating observations on life and himself. The funniest sketch for me was a completely unnecessary scene in which Blart is repeatedly attacked by a crowned-crane in a secluded outdoor piano bar: a ludicrous diversion while Maya is being held hostage at gunpoint by the bad guys. But it’s way more fun than the slow motion fight between Vincent’s suavely dressed goons and Blart’s bogan buddies: draw your stereotypes at ten paces. And the film’s ending makes a sad mockery of Alonso’s character Divina – the romantic interest who becomes so highly disposable it’s shameful. But, hey, this is the world of Adam Sandler, a man who has never cared what critics think and who just likes goofing around with his friends. Which about sums up the movie. With Australian cinematographer Dean Semler behind the camera, it looks stunning, and the appearance of Mini Kiss – a tribute band made up of singers with dwarfism – adds to the general irreverence. Go with your silliest friends.