By Leon Faerwald
Paul Blart (Kevin James) has been recruited by the government to undertake a top secret operation (if you sat through the post credit sequence of the first movie, you’d know that their interest in him was piqued due to his heroism in that film). The agent running that agent (Leonardo Dicaprio) is looking for a mysterious orb that he believes contains the power to split dimensions. He wants it because a group of anti-government protestors (led by Idris Elba in an Oscar-worthy performance) want it for themselves.
The mission is a failure, with Blart’s trusty werewolf sidekick Alejandro (voiced by Dwayne the Rock Johnson) dying in a sudden explosion. This scene is the most emotion I’ve felt in a theater in years, and The Rock’s voicework really does break your heart when you consider how long Blart and Alejandro spent on the field of duty. You really do feel the man-werewolf brotherhood between the two.
While in mourning Blart goes to Vegas with his daughter (Raini Rodriguez), which these scenes are what the trailers chose to focus on. They’re really only about 15 minutes of the film. It was deliberate on the part of the filmmakers, as they’re taking what you’d usually expect from a Happy Madison production and subverting it. It really makes you think on the state of film as an art form and why movies are more relevant now than ever.
Unfortunately, Blart’s daughter mysteriously vanishes. He searches for her through the underbelly of Vegas and runs into a mysterious young stripper (Jennifer Lawrence, continuing her hot streak with a terrific, layered performance) who has the exact name and personality of his daughter. Their relationship is tense to begin with and the film begins to explore the nature of the father-daughter relationship and how men view women as objects. The object in this case being Blart’s previously unremarkable daughter being transformed into a beautiful blonde by the power of Blart’s inner desires. It’s a brilliant commentary on this country’s shallow view of beauty and the male empowerment fantasy that is all too often tied into that.
Blart eventually is sent into space, where he discovers that Idris Elba is one of the good guys, and Leonardo Dicaprio is working for the aliens. He teams up with an alien underdog (played by Adam Sandler in a flawless rubber suit) and they return to Earth in giant alien mechs to put a stop to the evil aliens once and for all. The battle begins; and for a minute it looks like all is lost, until in comes Tom Cruise with an army of man-eating rhinoceros’, who then proceeds to turn the tide. It is revealed in a flashback that Idris Elba had gotten in touch with Cruise, who plays the leader of an ancient Canadian tribe who live in harmony with nature and the animals. They win the battle, Blart takes out Dicaprio; and he gets his daughter back.
To thank Blart for saving the country, they elect him President. Then, in the last scene of the film, Blart is sitting in the oval office, where his head explodes and it is revealed that he was Cthulhu the whole time. This is Happy Madison’s beginning of setting up the Paul Blart cinematic universe, and I’m excited for all the potential that holds. The big concern here is, does the ending stand on its own? I say yes. It is a satire on the dishonesty of politicians, how they butter us up with flowery speeches to get elected, and proceed to betray us once they get what they want.
PAUL BLART MALL COP 2 is a masterpiece. It will endure for the next century of cinema to come, it will be taught in film classes and its praises will be sung throughout the world. I can’t imagine the typical moviegoer can appreciate the brilliance on display here, but I encourage you to give it your best effort.
OK, I owe you guys a serious review. It’s just, what else can I say about a movie that has absolutely no ideas? None. HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 was better than this. There’s a running plot-thread where Blart’s daughter (Raini Rodriguez) gets accepted into UCLA and she feels uncomfortable telling him because she’s scared he’ll get controlling. Come on guys, the whole “dad who doesn’t want his daughter to grow up” trope was played out long before I was ever born. That plotline goes exactly where you’d expect.
There’s not a gag that works. They vary in between the “fat man falls down” shtick you see in the trailers, and the same lame telegraphed ‘random’ humor you see in a typical Happy Madison production. There’s a lot of scenes where two characters will have an awkward conversation for several minutes at a time and the humor is supposed to come from the fact that it’s awkward. Which if that was going to funny, the payoff would need to be quicker, and PAUL BLART takes its sweet time with these jokes, dragging each one out to painful lengths.
The villains are ridiculous too. They’re led by Neal McDonough, who does not want to be this movie in the slightest. Throughout this movie these guys are heavily armed, and yet the only time any one of them actually fires their guns is in one scene where Paul Blart is hiding in a suitcase, and the bad guy fires at it to try and get him. Hey, genius, open the suitcase, “hey, it’s the guy I’m looking for!”, shoot him, he’s dead, end of movie.
What seemed downright mean-spirited to me about the movie was the first six minutes, where his wife from the first film divorces him after six days for the presumed reason that the character is fat and doesn’t make any money. HA. THEN his mother, this seemingly really kind-hearted old woman gets hit by a milk truck. What’s the punchline? Paul Blart cries in a funny looking way. I’m not opposed to dark humor, not at all, but it helps if the person delivering the dark humor is trying to say something of merit. This movie isn’t interested in saying something of merit, it just wants to use it for shock value. To toss away Kevin James’ appeal, which is that he’s a sweet loveable schlub like that (although that was an appeal that never caught on with me, I get it, I do) is really pretty repulsive.
The film has nothing in the way of intrigue, none of the jokes surprise, none of the characters are interesting, the plot is so bland it’s almost offensive. This film has nothing in the way of a redeeming factor whatsoever; sans maybe Raini Rodriguez, who manages to deliver a likable and unique turn as Blart’s daughter. I know I ragged on her in that joke review, but she genuinely seems like a sweet kid. Hopefully she gets better scripts.
What was baffling to me; was that at 10:20 in the morning, on a rainy Saturday, that my theater was as packed as I’ve seen in some time. People actually ran through the rain to catch a screening of PAUL BLART MALL COP 2. *Heaves a heavy sigh* beauty is in the eye of the beholder I suppose. It’s the kind of situation that could make a person squint and ask “are you sure about this? PAUL BLART MALL COP 2?”
Suggestion: Skip it.