America has a fascination with the concept of heroism. It’s emblematic in its anthems, traditions, and in its cultural DNA, Tales of ordinary men and women reaching beyond the realms of extraordinary. When those heroes were once simple everyday folks with no initial strive to become great yet have it thrust upon them. In 2009, Happy Madison created another character who would answer that call… That character was Paul Blart.
Paul Blart is a simple man. He suffers from hypoglycaemia and dreams of being a policeman, yet complications of the former prevent the latter. Yet Blart still finds a content sense of duty guarding his Mall, despite none of the patrons taking him or his authority seriously. Trying to strike up a kiosk worker, Amy, with little hope of improvement to his situation. However, When a group of thieves tries to break in on the busiest day for the mall, (Black Friday) and threatens his family and friends. It’s up to this one store security guard, to become a hero.
Kevin James’s Blart is a humble protagonist. It’s refreshing to see the main character in these types of films who isn’t brash, arrogant, or scheming. He’s a down-to-earth guy looking for love and happiness, with a supportive family unit behind him. A single father, who still lives with his mother who wants little more than to keep his store safe and the occasional high score on Guitar Hero. But the film isn’t just a saccharine feel-good affair, it’s also a comedic showcase for the likes of Kevin James and his interactions with the mall’s goers. Blart’s attempts to enforce safety regulations to the dismay of casual shoppers (and to the detriment of himself) and who knew you could get so much comedy out of a Segway?
On a wider scale, The film explores the probabilities of parody and homage, drawing inspiration from Die Hard. By having one man against multiple, better equipped bad guys. With some moments of betrayal and other tropes from other action movies making for an effective style pastiche. It transitions smoothly from comedy to action-comedy-parody around the midway point. Going from scenes of Blart rocking it out in a nacho eating, to taking out goons in the next. All while performing some fine physical and verbal gags.
Paul Blart Mall Cop offers more than just a catchy title, it offers an action film that’s both funny and charming at the same time. With a protagonist who will warm your heart while splinting your sides. Showing that Happy Madison is willing to make subtle but noticeable changes to its formula in order to strike. Paul Blart may not be the hero we deserve, but he is certainly the hero we need.
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