When “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” soared to the top of the box-office after its debut two weeks ago, I hit the theaters to see what the fuss was all about.
Retail plays a supporting role in the slapstick comedy “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” starring Kevin James as a lovable yet doofy security guard who takes his job way too seriously.
Filled with warm but cheap laughs, the film — produced by Adam Sandler — centralizes around single-father Paul Blart, 43, who patrols and keeps a watchful eye on New Jersey’s West Orange Pavilion Mall. The plot develops as a group of thieves break into the mall (and hold a few hostages, including Blart’s daughter and love interest Amy, the girl who works at the “hair-extensions kiosk”) in an attempt to hack into the mall’s credit-card system. Blart spends the better part of the film trying to figure out how to free the hostages, save the day and ultimately get the girl. Think “Home Alone,” if the ward-off-the-bad-guy scenes were filmed at your local shopping mall. And during Black Friday weekend.
Some of the more laugh-out-loud parts of the film take place in various retail locations. One scene involves a teen-apparel retailer, where Blart (not so subtly) is forced to pose as a mannequin to disguise himself from the armed intruders. Meanwhile, amid the hostage showdown, Blart manages to stop off at the Hallmark store to browse their card collection for Amy’s birthday, and the final battle scene goes down at the Rainforest Café, where Blart must ward off the thieves amid the fog machines and parrot noises.
The film, which only cost about $26 million to make, is now nearing the $100 million mark after two weekend box-office highs, drawing movie-goers out of the house for this amusing escape-from-reality/good-for-the family film.
Unlike the unfortunate timing for Sophie Kinsella’s novel-turned-feature-film “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” who’s main character and recent college grad Rebecca Bloomwood maxes out her credit cards to pay for designer goods, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” focuses on the mall as an experience — a place to be with friends and family, and even a locale to meet new people.
It will be interesting to see how “Confessions of a Shopaholic” will fare during the economic downturn. Will movie watchers indulge to watch actress Isla Fisher take part in uninhibited, superfluous shopping or will it be a bit much to swallow right now?
The film hits the silver screen Valentine’s Day weekend.