Paul Blart is a bit of an oddity as far as Happy Madison productions go. The first film came and went with the standard negative press that accompanies films produced by Adam Sandler, but on the whole, it was mostly inoffensive, which is almost praiseworthy coming from that infamous studio. Its biggest problem is that it seemed as if the writers had gotten as far as coming up with a funny name and a funny scenario in a mall security guard acting as a Die Hard-esque savior, but they never got around to writing any actual jokes. What resulted was a bland ninety minutes with Kevin James playing the saddest comedic lead in recent memory, whose pathetic nature was less endearing than it was… well, pathetic.
And so, that film fell away into the annals of obscurity, until six years later a sequel was made and the world gave a resounding “Why?” Keeping with the tradition of Happy Madison films acting as an excuse to send Adam Sandler's friends on vacation, Kevin James returns as Paul Blart with the character attending a security guard convention in Las Vegas. Blart’s heroics haven’t improved his life after the events of the first film, and now he’s just as much of a sad-sack as he was before, perhaps even more so considering his love interest from the first film has abandoned him and his mother has been run over by a milk truck. While in Vegas, a group of art thieves are dismantling a Vegas casino’s prized collection, and Blart is inexplicably the only one who can stop it.
If the first film was a lazy attempt at parodying Die Hard, the sequel is an equally lazy attempt to parody Die Hard 2, exploiting the same basic formula in a larger, more grandiose location. But again, the film runs into the same major problems as the first iteration: no one bothered to write any jokes. Oh sure, some of the situations are more absurd, encouraging some “WTF” reactions, but none of these are framed in a way that’s actually funny, just bizarre. This is only further exacerbated by the fact that, like the first film, Blart’s character is established and over-established for the film’s first half; the film oozes desperation as it tries desperately to get you to like this sickeningly boring everyman.
But Blart is even less likeable in this film than in the previous one, as classic Happy Madison misogyny works its way into this script, even though the first film thankfully found that relatively lacking. There’s a running gag about a hotel manager whom Blart keeps rejecting advances from, but it turns out that she was only ever trying to be courteous. However, as Blart continues “rejecting” her throughout the film, she finds herself irresistibly attracted to him, without ever getting to know him beyond his rude assumptions. This is the sort of self-aggrandizing fantasy that we’ve come to expect from Happy Madison, and the misogyny is only made worse when Blart attempts to convince a drunk woman that a fellow officer’s unrelenting attempts to seduce her are actually in her best interests, even when she has already said no. This takes a dull but inoffensive protagonist and makes him into a dull creep who sinks any hope he had at being likeable.
In the end, I’m not even sure why I bothered to review this movie. I knew it was going to be bad. You knew it was going to be bad. Is it the worst film of the year, as many are saying? No, I’ve seen worse this year, but that doesn’t mean the film is at all worth recommending. It was a dull, lifeless cash grab for everyone involved, and the writing and direction are so sloppy that they don’t even bother to hide it. Not even funny in an absurdist way, the film will likely leave you feeling slightly disgusted or entirely disinterested. Probably both.
Should I continue watching known cinematic trainwrecks so you may read my vitriol? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.