Kevin James stars as the title character in this comedy, a divorced suburban Dad trying to make ends meet as a security officer in a New Jersey shopping mall. Though no one else takes his job seriously, Blart considers himself the last line of defence on the front lines of safety. When a robbery shuts down the centre, the Garden State’s most formidable and diligent mall cop gets his chance to finally act out all his Dirty Harry fantasies.
James, who’s made a growing reputation for himself in the comedy genre mainly through last year’s I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry, came up with the idea for the character after a discussion with his producer and friend Adam Sandler. Because mall cops are purportedly in positions of authority, but without the real power of the police, James saw the comedy potential of a character who finally gets the chance to test his mettle when an extreme team of serious skateboarders takes over the mall.
To play the part, James did the requisite research – what he described as polyester pants training. “Because polyester doesn’t breathe, if you don’t do the training and your legs aren’t used to polyester pants, you will break out. It is not pretty.” Surrounding James is a group of comic actors that bring lively performances to their roles led by Jayma Mays as the object of his affections Amy who sells clip-on hair extensions at a mall kiosk called Unbeweaveable. Keir O’Donnell plays Blart’s partner, Veck Sims – lazy, sarcastic, and generally just marking time to earn an easy paycheque.
With a face made for comedy, James does his best to ignite early laughs over the first 30 minutes, with only partial success. Things hot up when the tattooed skaters arrive to barricade the entrance doors, take hostages and start their plan to steal credit card numbers. Using the same kind of physical comedy that the late John Candy excelled at, James does ramp up the laughs as he puts on his Bruce Willis face to thwart their intentions culminating in a Vietnam-style confrontation at the Rainforest Café. Paul Blart his its moments and will prompt the odd giggle, but seems an entertainment that will do better on DVD.