Hello Paul Blart, our old friend. We’ve come to laugh at you again.
At the fat jokes that just keep coming. Giggles certain we will be receiving.
But the theater just echoes with the sounds…of silence.
Sorry, when a movie falls as flat, when every joke and gag has a “just grind through it” quality, the mind wanders.
“Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” is even more of a kids’ movie than the 2009 original — slapstick and sight gags built around a clueless plump lump. It’s harmless, and Kevin James tries to find a place among the cinema’s pratfall kings.
“They say overweight people use humor to achieve affection,” one wag cracks during the film. So it is with James. Watch the way he takes a tumble, sells a creaky gag that has Blart bouncing off a store window or overdoes his cop slide across the slick floor. Check out the effort he put into making Blart only graceful on a Segway, his mall patrol vehicle of choice.
It’s a shame none of this stuff ever rises above a slight grin.
Blart has married and had a quicky divorce since “Mall Cop 1,” and here he and zaftig daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez of TV’s “Austin & Ally”) visit Las Vegas for a “fake cop” convention at the Wynn Resort.
Neal McDonough is the villain leading a team of crooks in an attempted art heist. Blart, mocked and underestimated by crooks and his peers, springs into action after Maya and this cute valet she’s flirting with are taken hostage.
The lines, many written by James himself, flop.
“Security is a mission, not an INTERmission.”
James tries too hard. He mugs like A & W, punches bad dialogue as if he’s never told a joke and strains to make the pratfalls land. The studio didn’t spend a dime on giving him anybody funny to play off of — Ana Gasteyer and Loni Love and Gary Valentine? Nothing funny to say or do, here.
Sequels are cynical by nature, but this one, with its casino product placement ad and director Andy Fickman apparently checking his text messages instead of trying punch the limp gags into shape, is purely a paycheck. James may not deserve better, but the kids they’re pitching this to do.
MPAA Rating: PG for some violence
Cast: Kevin James, Raini Rodriguez, Neal McDonough
Credits: Directed by Andy Fickman, written by Kevin James and Nick Bakay. A Sony/Columbia release.
Running time: 1:34