It has been over six years since the first “Paul Blart,” which is too long to ask people to stay loyal to such a piddling franchise. To compare it to a superior series, the time between has brought us four “Fast and the Furious” movies, and clearly more effort goes into them. Heck, more effort goes into washing the cars. But somehow audiences are expected to retain their love of the bumbling mall cop (Kevin James). It’s actually working: the film made an impressive $24 million this past weekend. I don’t know whether to be disappointed with the moviegoing public for its poor taste or impressed with it for its long memory. Wait, I do know, I’m definitely disappointed.
The new film finds Blart traveling to Las Vegas with his teenage daughter (Raini Rodriguez) for a security guard convention. He makes a fool of himself at every turn, much to his daughter’s embarrassment, but he still hopes to be selected to give the keynote speech at the convention (the venue for the speech gets downgraded, making for one of the few funny gags in the movie). If he was supposed to give the keynote speech, that seems like the kind of thing they would have worked out with him in advance, but what’s common sense compared to Blart’s impossibly high hopes? Meanwhile, a crew of thieves led by Vincent (Neal McDonough) is planning to steal paintings from Blart’s hotel. It’s up to Blart to stop them.
Early scenes depict Vincent and his team as polished and precise, but if they were any good, Blart wouldn’t last a minute against them. These guys have guns, and Blart is – how can I put this? – an easy target. But these guys are so idiotic, falling into obvious non-lethal traps and losing fights they have no business losing. One scene sees a henchman encounter Blart’s empty Segway scooter, with Blart hiding in a nearby cranny. The henchman shoots at the abandoned scooter. It’s infuriating how stupid this is. It’s not like Blart can hide on the scooter, the way he could say, slouch down in a car. He’s either on the contraption or he’s not. He is at many points in this movie because Segways are supposedly funny, but in this instance, he’s clearly not.
The movie is one joke after another that doesn’t work. Not once but twice violence against old ladies is played for laughs. One instance (depicted often in the film’s advertising) is actually redeemed a bit by the character’s impossibly forgiving attitude, but the other is just mean and unforgiveable. Blart loses his likeability by constantly treating the hotel staff with a condescending attitude as we wait for him to inevitably be humbled. And of course, there are plenty of gags about Blart being out of shape and mall cops not being “real” cops, in case you had forgotten in the last thirty seconds.
Here’s how pathetic this movie is: the camera lingers on Blart as he meticulously unwraps a Hershey’s Kiss. I grew up right next door to Hershey, PA, and I currently work at Hershey’s Chocolate World in Times Square. I should have gone crazy for the reference to our signature product. But the scene is so plodding that I was just doing that hand gesture where I was moving my hand around in a circle, futilely trying to tell the movie to go faster (it’s the same gesture Kevin James does much more successfully in his standup act where he wants a dull friend to pick up the pace on a voicemail message). It’s not even that long of a movie, but with pacing like that, it takes forever. I laughed maybe once every ten or fifteen minutes during “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2,” keeping it from being truly horrible, but there is very little to redeem this collection of annoyances that calls itself a comedy.
One and a Half Stars out of Five.
“Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” is rated PG for some violence. Its running time is 94 minutes.