Silly Slapstick Can’t Save Awful ‘Mall Cop 2’

Paul Blart

It’s too bad that it’s all so lame.

The burly guy still loves a Segway and security guard work.

He takes his pre-college daughter, perilously built like him, to a convention in Las Vegas.

How bad could Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 really be? Very. And I usually like the lovable goofiness of Kevin James.

Not this time, fellow Long Island guy. James again has co-writing credits with Nick Bakay on this follow-up to the 2009 comedy that hauled in $146 million at U.S. theaters because, well, people needed to feel good by watching buffoonish Blart save a New Jersey mall from evil clutches.

Directed by Andy Fickman this time around (instead of Steve Carr), the sequel does not stray too far from the original premise. Some of the same stars return, too, but for frighteningly short cameos. His girlfriend and mother, played by Jayma Mays and Shirley Knight, are summarily dismissed in the first, oh, 90 seconds through the devices of divorce and death since the last movie.

Thankfully, Raini Rodriguez is back as much-suffering daughter Maya, because her manner of handling the sequel’s best plot points — an acceptance to UCLA and her reluctance to tell her suffering pop about it as well as attention from Wynn hotel and casino worker Lane (played thoroughly happy but slightly dumb by David Henrie) — are the best thing about this movie.

The rest of it is cookie-cutter slapstick, playing off actor James’ puffy frame and ability to move surprisingly well with it, and character Blart’s hypoglycemia with a tendency to go comatose. But he’s not funny dancing around on stage wearing wings with the startled members of the stage production. And he’s not funny suddenly face down on the hotel lobby floor, then struggling like a fish out of water to snag some sugar in a disgusting manner.

Bad guys with a serious crime caper in execution abound throughout the Wynn, and because this is the site of the annual security guard convention, so too do comrades help Blart attempt to thwart said campaign.

Unfortunately, the man with the evil plan is played by Neal McDonough, who looks so very familiar because he’s acting exactly like all those bad-acting characters you’ve seen him smirking through on many TV roles. (I most remember him coming on and doing bad deeds to my ladies of Desperate Housewives a half decade ago.)

And more unfortunately, the funniest thing about the security crew was the ridiculous haircut on Saul Gundermutt, with the added insider’s wink-wink that Gary Valentine played James’ Doug Heffernan’s brother for eight years on TV’s The King of Queens.

It’s too bad that it’s all so lame. I still want to like James, but I can’t forgive him for co-writing such a silly mess.

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