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By Michael Ferraro | January 18, 2009

Am I the only one who wants to see Kevin James succeed, if not for any reason other than the fact that he seems like a nice person? There is just something about the big lug that makes you want to hang out with him and drink a beer or something. Maybe bring him to the mall to make fun of people with him or push people off the escalator or something.

Speaking of malls, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” stars James in his first real solo effort. That is to say he isn’t playing the sidekick role to Adam Sandler (“…Chuck and Larry“) or Will Smith (“Hitch“); this time around he is all by himself out there in cinema land. If there is to be blame set upon someone, it will be him. James is not only starring, he is responsible for co-writing (with fellow scribe Nick Bakay) and producing this film as well.

So what’s to be expected? I’ve been a “only-in-reruns” fan of James ever since my television started spewing out old episodes of “King of Queens” on a daily basis. The show wasn’t exactly a high point for situational comedy or anything, but there was something charming about him (see above) that always caused me to watch. It didn’t even matter that every single episode played out exactly like the last.

Blart is a single parent living at his mother’s house with his daughter. After several failed attempts of becoming a New Jersey State Trooper (thanks to hypoglycemia), he abandons his dreams and decides to keep his job as security officer at the West Orange Mall. He knows the ins and outs of the job – he’s a 10-year veteran – and he is the only one on his “force” that actually takes the job seriously.

His seriousness is finally tested when a group of skateboarding/BMX riding/free running terrorists takes control of the mall. Their goal is to seize control of the mall’s financial gains so they can order a bunch of things from and head to the Cayman Islands. It’s a pretty simplistic goal when one considers the amount of time and equipment the gang put into this job.

Director Steve Carr (“Daddy Day Care“) tries nothing new in the world of aesthetics. Should be no surprise considering that any film put out by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions doesn’t really need to take any kind of cinematic risk. Their cookie-cutter filmmaking techniques are a perfect fit for the mindless audience out to watch. “Paul Blart” may even be a new low for them, though this is a masterpiece compared to anything Rob Schneider has put out only it suffers from the same form of stereotyping. Blart is a fat guy – we get it – but we need to be bombarded with dialogue telling us how much he likes food. Over and over. And what better way to photograph a fat guy going to work? By giving him a Segway to drive throughout the entire running time of the film. Over and Over.

Its PG rating means it is to be shared and enjoyed by families. I guess running over a dog with a Segway and not taking responsibility for it is something children the world over should look up to. There is even a scene where Blart gets into an altercation with a rather large woman, and her shirt starts coming up over her head, leaving her rather large belly and bra (containing two rather large breasts) flopping about. I didn’t even want myself viewing it, let alone my child (if I had a kid).

Who out there is to gain any kind of entertainment value from watching “Paul Blart: Mall Cop”? That guy sitting two rows behind you who laughed out loud while a trailer for this played before some other movie you were attending. Those millions of Americans who still find the ole’ fat-guy-running-into-clear-glass-window-and-then-falling-down routine hilarious. There are a lot of you out there too; I heard you all at the screening I attended. Why do I hate you so?

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