Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Paul Blart: Mall Cop

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some violence, mild crude and suggestive humor, and language
Profanity:Brief crude language
Nudity/Sex:Some crude humor
Alcohol/Drugs:Comic drunkeness
Violence/Scariness:Very graphic for a PG -- comic/action violence including guns, punches, biting, and falling, hostages, no one badly hurt but graphic for a PG
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:January 16, 2009
DVD Release Date:May 19, 2009

Some things are so inherently funny they transcend time, language, and culture. Slipping on a banana peel. A cream pie in the face. And now we must add to the list Kevin James in a uniform riding a Segway in a mall. The vision of the large man in the crisp white shirt with a shiny badge primly rolling along past Brookstone and Orange Julius is funny even if you’ve never seen a Segway — or a mall. And James, who co-wrote, endows the title character with such piercing sweetness that even his geeky pretensions are endearing. “Fun fact!” he likes to say before spouting off some arcane fact from science or history. And when he tries to persuade a pretty girl at a kiosk that there is a raging controversy about whether security personnel at the mall will be referred to as “officers,” we can’t help hoping that it is resolved in his favor.

Paul Blart (Kevin James, with not just Segway and badge but mustache and Hello Kitty band-aid) wants very much to be a state trouper but he keeps failing the program. He has the heart of a lion and is even pretty good on the obstacle course. But his hypoglycemia hits him at the wrong moments, causing him to pass out. And so he is still working at the mall and trying to persuade himself and those around him that it is a job with some actual authority. Without a weapon or the ability to cite or arrest anyone, he does not get very far.

He is dearly loved by his mother (the wonderful Shirley Knight) and daughter (Raini Rodriguez), who encourage him to use to find a date. But there is a sweet young woman named Amy in a synthetic wig at the hair weave kiosk (Jayma Mays) who somehow gives him a reason to try to reach out. And then the bad guys arrive, and it’s time for “Die Hard” on laughing gas.

Despite its origins as a Happy Madison production (Adam Sandler’s company), this film avoids most crude humor and all references to 80’s pop culture. It drags a bit on its way to the reindeer-named bad guys but once they arrive, zooming through the mall on skateboards and dirt bikes, with only security guard — I mean security officer — Blart and his Segway plus whatever he can find Sharper Image and the sporting goods store, it kicks into gear. Blart’s got you covered.

  • Dustin Putman

    I love “Career Opportunities.” Such an underappreciated comedy!

  • Debbie

    I really don’t understand why this movie has done as well as it has in the box office. My husband and I found it boring, predictable, and a waste of our time and money. From the lack of laughter in the theater, I feel many would agree with us. As a woman, I find it offensive that we have yet another movie with the theme of a middle-aged man, preying on a too-young, hot girl, too inexperienced to know what she is getting herself in to. Of course, the fact that he wins the girl now proves he is really a great man (choke). Once again, a movie that tells men the young girls will make them feel good about their aging selves, and a movie that lets middle-age women know that they are “used up.” How sad that this is what we call good family entertainment.

  • Nell Minow

    A great comment, Debbie! Thanks so much. I liked the movie more than you did but am very surprised at how well it has done. I agree with you about the prevalence in movies of the young woman as the solution to the middle-aged man’s problems. It may be a very small point, but in this film I took it as a sign of some progress that she was not an innocent ditz but someone who could spot a cad, look past the external doofiness to see the sweetness, and show some courage and resourcefulness of her own. It is not much, but it is better than I see in most films, especially comedies directed at a male audience.
    Thanks again — this is a very insightful comment that will help those who have seen the film understand it better and those still considering whether to see it make a better decision.

  • Steven

    I was surprised to see what the first post was concerning this movie. My wife and I watched it opening night and laughed the whole way through, Kevin James brought his same comedic personality that is in the TV show King of Queens. In response to Deb’s comment the girl was in her late 20s to early 30s at best and he was in his early to mid 30s based on the time frame the movie gave for each character. The movie was a comedic parody of various “cop” films. Overall the movie is great and I would highly recommend it to any one of junior high age.

  • Elizabeth

    I took my 10 year old daughter to see this yesterday and the theatre was packed with families and young children (elementary school age). I wonder if high school isn’t a better target age group for this movie. It was not appropriate for younger children – the guns, drunk scene and bad language were too much. The trailers make the movie seem much more light hearted – for families – than it really is.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Elizabeth. The ads will always try to make the movie appear more family-friendly than it really is, which is why I try to warn parents about content like guns and drinking. As my review shows, even though it is rated PG, I recommended it for 10 and up. Your comment will also be a big help to parents trying to decide if this film is appropriate for their families, and I really appreciate your taking the time to write.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks so much, Steven! Your reaction was more like mine. I was very taken with Kevin James’ performance and I agree with you that the characters were supposed to be close in age. I really appreciate your taking the time to write.

  • Lynne

    I couldn’t agree more with Elizabeth. I took my 9 year old daughter to see it. On top of it not being evenly remotely funny and extremely poorly edited, it was ABSOLUTELY inapprooriate for her age. The violence was over the top for a “family movie”. I would never knowingly take my child to a movie where the phrase “I’m going to put a bullet in your head!” is uttered.
    I went with the PG rating, and didn’t check this website first. Shame on me. Movie Mom, I feel you should have been still on it not being for younger kids – especially since the trailer seemed so.
    After taking her to see Marley and Me, you think I would have learned!

  • Nell Minow

    Thank you, Lynne. We’ve had at least four movies in the last three months that were rated PG but in my opinion unsuitable for anyone under 6th or 7th grade. As you can see, I recommended this one for middle schoolers and up only. It used to be that the PG rating was pretty reliable, but not anymore.

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