(2009) Director: Who Cares? | Writers: Does it Matter?
There is a famed sequence in Sergei Eisenstein’s classic The Battleship Potemkin called “The Odessa Steps,” wherein tsarist soldiers march down the Potemkin Stairs firing upon civilians, killing women, children, the elderly, the bespectacled, and even sending strollers full of babies down the staircase, presumably to their doom. It’s a solemn scene, intensely sad and shocking, sure to wrench emotional responses of despair and horror from its viewers.
But if you don’t want to peruse your local video store for the film, the closest experience to watching that devastating sequence is slapping down ten bucks to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop. There is one difference, though: The Battleship Potemkin is way funnier.
Paul Blart stars “comedian” Kevin James, last seen cavorting with known Scientologist Leah Remini on King of Queens, in what is presumably his last film role as the titular Blart, an overweight, Segway-driving security guard who dreams of becoming a New Jersey State Trooper, a goal dashed by Blart’s inopportune Hypoglycemia. Luckily, Blart finds a semi-attractive, bug-eyed woman working at a mall kiosk (Jayma Mays) to creepily stalk, which tides him over until he and several others are taken hostage by the squirrely brother from Wedding Crashers (Kier O’Donnell) and his totally radical team of X-treme henchmen. Misery and pain ensue. For the audience, I mean.
It’s impossible to quantify how bad this film is. I’m sure the filmmakers, may God have mercy on their souls, thought they were tapping into that hip new Chris Farley genre that’s just now taking off; but even if Farley were still alive today, I like to think that he’d turn up his powder-encrusted nose at the offer of starring in Paul Blart and instead take that choice role in Beverly Hills Ninja 2: The Legend of Curly’s Gold.
I heard people chuckling from time to time, but even in the gloom of the theater I could see the terror on the frozen faces in the crowd, so it had to be a laugh track provided by the studio. There was also a woman who insisted on clapping every time a moment from the trailer was shown, but by her build I assumed it was Kevin James in disguise, covertly going from screening to screening across America in order to boost his already ludicrous box office totals. I hope he had time to enjoy the redwoods before flying off to Boise.
Paul Blart did teach me one important thing: humility. Last year I figured I’d seen the least funny movie that would ever be produced, a heaping pile of offal called The Love Guru, and I boasted such a claim in my writing for another publication. Well, Kevin James and his wretched band of accomplices have knocked me from my high horse and shown me that nothing is certain, and that things can always get worse.
One thing’s for sure. I’m a lesser person for having seen this awful, hateful movie, and I’ll die with regret in my shattered heart.
Rating: Zero of Five Stars