More than any other genre, comedies rely on the likability of their lead performers for success. On that strength Paul Blart 2 mines some fairly large laughs from its more than capable cast members. Most notably of the bunch is star Kevin James and his little doppelgänger Gary Valentine.
After the highs established at the end of Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Mr. Blart’s life tragically falls apart. In the opening three minutes the writers, James and Nick Bakay, have Blart’s mother run down by a milk truck, his wife file an annulment and his daughter’s acceptance to UCLA. So, the picture starts out on unsure footing, as it pokes fun at a man who is emotional distraught. By the sheer exuberance of Kevin James, who single-handedly saves this movie from stretches of time-killer filler, things start to turn for the better.
Blart (James) has been invited to join a security convention in Las Vegas. He brings his teenage daughter along, though his over-protective nature threatens their relationship. She has the attention of a young valet driver and Blart doesn’t accept her sexual maturation with ease. Meanwhile, the film offers chuckles in the form of the other ‘security specialists’ at the convention, including Philadelphia’s farmers market security chief Saul Gundermutt (Valentine) and keynote speaker Nick Manero (Nick Turturro).
While giving an impromptu speech, Blart’s daughter is taken hostage by a group of criminals intent on stealing the art work from the hotel’s extensive and expensive collection. Neal McDonough plays Vincent, the head of the bad guys. This must be the umpteenth time that McDonough has appeared as the heavy in the movies. A quasi-love affair takes place between Blart and the stunning general manager of the hotel (Daniella Alonso). The scene in which James brushes of her misguided advances and points out her lip is sweating is a classic.
I almost can’t believe that I’m awarding Paul Blart 2 a three star rating. This just goes to show that preconceived notions fly out the window if a film delivers on its intended level. Kevin James is the premier ‘large man’ in the movies today, yet unlike Belushi or Farley, he seems innocent and burdened by his girth. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is the sequel I’ didn’t know I wanted and god-help me but, its innocuous and I welcome the trilogy.
Director: Andy Fickman
Stars: Kevin James, Daniella Alonso, Gary Valentine