Friday, January 23, 2009

Seeing Paul Blart in the Mall

Returning from work, thinking while testing the limits of the Mazda's "Empty Gas Tank Indicator Light", a conspiracy perpetrated by the car company in cahoots with the oil companies to get you to add gas earlier so you never to see the very bottom of the tank. If you're wondering, it's about 28.3 miles while driving primarily on Route 80 at about 60 miles per hour. In fact, I learned that the cruise control went on automatically when it got real low. I don't know if it's supposed to do that or not.

I was contemplating the few remaining dollars burning a hole in my wallet, at least not because of the gas prices anymore. Where was I going with this? Yes. I opened the wallet and saw a long awaited & soon-to-be-expiring free movie ticket or free super combo. My first thought was to just tear it into shreds and forget about it but the Jew in me wouldn't let it happen. While I stare at it, my uncle Vic called(VIc is actually my godfather, explicable through another long divergent Judaism related tale better for another day. Basically, in explaining his role in my life to friends and their parents to my Jewish day school who don't have or believe in godfathers.) We used to go to movies all the time when I was younger because he had a car and didn't want to go to the movies alone and as a young teenager I didn't care how I got to the movie.

problem with this fucking AMC Moviewatcher Reward coupon, not really a reward coupon is that it doesn't apply to "special engagements," movies that were released in the last two weeks or basically are in limited release (Oscar-bait). Most movies don't stay in theatres longer than two weeks anymore. So I'll probably have to get a ticket for Marley & Me to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop. How sad is that?

Funny story. Last time I had one of these passes I had a shouting match with a ticketseller or whatever you called them followed be a berating of a manager who told me a movie had not be in theatres two weeks when it had and then I pointed at the showtime board asking how every fucking movie in a 16 screen theatre was a "special engagement" except for some random movie for kids. I asked them if I looked like a 5 year old. The manager looked at me befuddled and then gave me a ticket to a movie I wanted to see. I don't remember the movie but it ended up sucking, probably influenced by being 15 minute late for the movie (and not just the previews). He called and asked me if I wanted to meet with him, his friend Tall Rob & my little sister for dinner at On the Border, not a vegetarian's paradise. Then he was going to the movies. Movies, I thought, I have this ticket thing so movies are a good idea. He said, "Wanna see Paul Blart?" and I had to pause. Usually if someone asks me if I want to see anything, the answer is uniformly yes. I will basically go see any movie.

After contemplating the Blart option for 2 hours, I decided to take a look at the movie and see if there is a reason that this movie opened #1 at the box office with over $33 million dollars. Partly, it was research for a new comedy I'm working on to see what works even in a Paul Blart type comedy. It's all an excuse to appease the Jew again and not waste the ticket.

Post Blart Viewing

The nicest thing I can say is that Blart Wasn't terrible. It was about 100x funnier than I thought it would be. I am not a Kevin James enthusiast. I did end up buying a ticket for Revolutionary Road in order to see Blart which must be some kind of film buff heresy. I might even go to movie geek hell for it.

I've never really liked sitcoms on CBS. I never got the "Everybody Loves Raymond," "King of Queens," and especially the unbelievably humorless "Two & a Half Men" love. But to be honest Blart has heart.

After sitting through six previews that I can't imagine being less interested in, including a horrible looking Dragonball Z movie, some generic fish out of water rom-com starring Zellweger & Connick hanging in Minnesota with the terrifically generic title New in Town, Pink Panther 2, Fast & the Furious 19 (back to Vin Diesel & Paul Walker of course), some animated movie, a Dwayne Johnson's (AKA The Rock) new kid movie with alien children who can stop cars, and some animated piece of shit, looked like it should have been called Shrek in Space. That's two sequels, (including a sequel to a terrible bastardization of a remake) a manga/cartoon live action interpretation, rom-com retread, animated retread and kiddie crap. The next few months look bright.

Back to Blart business. The more you say Blart the more infectious it becomes. Blart, Blart, Blart, Blart! Kevin James really does sell the movie. His lovable oaf who has failed the New Jersey State Trooper Academy test 8 times takes pride in his job as a Segway-riding Mall Security "Officer." I have never been to a mall patrolled by security on segways and I am a NJ resident, where Blart's mall is supposed to be. Paul is full of useless bits information about the history of chain restaurants that fill the mall like American Joe's and originally humorous idioms, mostly food related like "Peanut Butter, it just fills the cracks of the heart." He failed at marriage with a woman who married him for a Green card then was gone with the wind. He calls mall patrons "civilians" and keeps kids in line telling them to "keep their balls in the pit." Training a new security guard he lets the newbie know that he has to use his smarts to control his post because "the mind is the only weapon that doesn't need a holster." On their 30 minute lunch, Blart tells the newbie that it takes him "20 minutes to eat, 5 minutes to socialize & 5 minutes to refocus."

There are plenty of great build up scenes and they don't feel forced like many comedies. In fact, this seems like the true story of the world's proudest and most inspired mall cop. He pulls over a saucy old man in an electric wheelchair that is threatening the safety and tries to issue a citation to him. Although the old man foils the attempt by running away from him with his supped old age mobile. The first plot point that foils the reality is the love interest wig kiosk Amy. She seems to instantly fall for the oaf although she looks like she's about 18, a fake Lindsey Lohan with a less endowed chest, and he's in his fourties and about 100 pounds overweight. It is somewhat unreasonable but a necessary ploy for keep the story rolling.

The film has a lot of strong pieces of background info that it leans on for humor besides James' adeptness in physical comedy, similar to the stylings of Chris Farley. IF this movie was made about a decade ago, I have no doubt Farley would have been Paul Blart. The film comes to a climax when the mall is taken over by a gang of X-Games enacting, Bluetooth wearing gang with its members named after Santa's Reindeer take over the mall on Black Friday and take Amy hostage. Hilarity ensues as Blart uses his mall knowledge to his advantage to defeat these young bucks with their skateboarding, BMX jumping, indoor parkouring.

Sure, the movie becomes ludicrous but with a small amount of suspension of disbelief, not as much as the averageDie Hard movie, the movie is quite realistic.The film's various supporting characters are quite funny including the SWAT team leader, who used to pick on Blart in high school played by Bobby Cannavale and the head mall cop (Peter Gerety). The more I think about it, the movie is like an ad for chain stores in malls like Rainforest Café that James uses to his advantage.

So, Blart isn't bad. For a quick 90+ minute movie I'd recommend for a quick rental. After seeing Taken this week though, you should run out and see this movie next week. It truly is an awesome ass-kicking action film with a real story. Neeson is on top of his game. I never imagined him in this type of ex-covert government agent type gone rogue role but it was pitch perfect. Taken is an early contender for the best film of 2009.

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