Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)

(On TV, December 2016) As far as I’m concerned, there is just one thing worth mentioning about Paul Blart: Mall Cop: It was shot in the only American shopping mall that I know well — The Burlington, Massachusetts Shopping Mall that’s not too far away from the hotel of the Readercon SF convention that I attended from 2005 to 2011. I didn’t even realize it during the film: I watched it and was amazed at how similar it was to the mall I knew, down to the exact same restaurants. Yet I shrugged off the similarities, thinking—eh, what would be the odds? But it was, and you can imagine my amazement. But there’s a film attached to the mall footage, and that’s when I run out of things to say. Paul Blart: Mall Cop is a product of the Happy Madison lowbrow comedy factory, which is to say that it features an underachieving protagonist forced by circumstances to grow up, impress the girl and save the day. The straightforward plot can be summarized on a napkin, and the various pratfalls only need a portly guy willing to fall down. Kevin James (who also writes and produces) is not unsympathetic as the hero, but he works with and against bad material. Meanwhile, Jayma Mays’ eyes specifically steal whatever scenes they’re in. Otherwise, there’s not much to say—this is as basic a comedy as you can get, and its chief asset is that it can be played in just about any setting without upsetting too many people. On the other hand; I have great memories of Burlington Mall at that time (At some point, I’ll tell you the tale of the Lego store), and it’s kind of cool that there’s a Hollywood production that will immortalize the place forever.

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