It’s been six years since sincere security officer Paul Blart successfully fended off criminal interlopers at New Jersey’s West Orange Pavilion Mall. And for the humble, earnest and admittedly overweight mall cop, those years have not been kind.
The beautiful young woman he rescued back then married him … and left him after just six days of matrimonial bliss. Then Paul’s beloved mom got terminally thwacked by an errant milk truck. And even though he doesn’t know it yet, his daughter, Maya, has been accepted at UCLA, which means she’ll be moving all the way across the country … away from him. (It’s a blow the unusually mature Maya can’t quite bring herself to deliver to her dear ol’ dad.)
Despite Paul’s practically preternatural optimism, things are looking pretty bleak. “I guess I was the last one to get the memo,” he laments, “that I had peaked.”
Security Officers Trade Association Conference to the rescue! It’s in Las Vegas, And it seems like the perfect respite for a devoted-but-struggling single dad who needs a bit of R&R to get a fresh lease on life. After all, what could be better than connecting with likeminded security professionals, testing out the latest nonlethal security weaponry (bean bag guns, anyone?) and, well, scarfing down M&Ms from the bottomless bowl provided by the hotel.
Little does the big man know that also living it up in that very same hotel is a highly skilled band of thieves plotting to purloin 13 works of art, including a prized Vincent Van Gogh.
So let’s just say vacation’s over for Mr. Paul Blart. The mall cop’s gonna be putting his particular set of skills to work in a hotel this time. Because, as he says, “Security is a mission. Not an intermission!”
Paul Blart blasts and blunders through life like a massive monsoon, a fact the movie frequently mocks. But though Paul’s an easy target (and no joke is ever left behind here), he’s also a conscientious and earnest security officer and father.
Having lost his wife to divorce and his mother to a horrible accident, Paul’s overprotective fatherly instincts are fully engaged with Maya. He makes sure she’s always got important security gear (Mace, Swiss army knife, extra phone battery, walkie-talkie), and he watches her every move with the comedic intensity of a Berenstain Bear. That attention is pretty stifling to Maya at times—something she tries to let him know—but it’s very well-intentioned. Thus, when Maya and a new friend (hotel bellhop Lane) are eventually kidnapped by art heist ringleader Vincent, well, nothing will keep Papa from rushing to the rescue of his trapped cub (who, we find out, is fairly well equipped to deal with danger even without his help). Paul also comes around on the whole UCLA thing after a while, selflessly encouraging Maya to pursue her college dreams. (Dreams she’s also willing to give up if he really needs her to.)
Paul gets help taking down Vincent from a veritable platoon of fellow security guards, as well as others at the hotel. And when Paul gives the keynote speech at the security officers’ conference, he rhetorically asks, “Why do we do it?” His response? To “help someone today.” He concludes, “If you believe the purpose of life is to serve yourself, then you have no purpose. Help someone today.”
Paul says of his and his daughter’s girth, “That’s how the good Lord made us.”
Women wear low-cut tops. Sunbathers in bikinis are visible in the background during a pool scene. Paul ends up in a Cirque du Soleil-style production that boasts bare-chested, skirt-clad men and female performers wearing pretty small dresses.
When a woman falls for Paul’s unconventional charm, he selflessly talks her into staying with her boyfriend. When Maya dons a one-piece swimsuit that’s so conservative you can’t immediately tell it’s a swimsuit, Dad tells her she can’t go to the pool wearing that kind of “Victoria’s Secret” outfit.
Much of star Kevin James’ shtick is predicated upon his intensely physical comedy, and there’s no shortage of that here—often with Paul on the receiving end. He’s pecked and kicked mercilessly by a giant bird (as is a bad guy), hit by a car while showboating on a Segway and kicked by a horse (which sends him flying into a nearby minivan). He crawls into a bulletproof suitcase and tumbles down a flight of stairs, eventually slamming into one of Vincent’s goons and plunging into a pool.
And on and on it goes.
An improvised electrified dart knocks a guy out. Blart Tases one baddie five or six times. He takes out various henchman with an assortment of the other nonlethal weapons that are showcased at the conference (a bean bag gun, a foam shooter, and a marble shooter that’s supposed to make people slip and fall down). Thinking he’s attacking a bad guy, Paul hits an elderly housekeeper in the stomach.
Paul and his peers ultimately take on Vincent’s troops in a comedic battle royal. They violently appropriate whatever hotel lobby furniture they can get their hands on—lamps, vases, etc.—to disable the art-stealing gang. Vincent and his henchmen, meanwhile, aren’t averse to using guns. They’re poor shots, though, only managing to wound one of Blart’s compatriots in the arm. And it should be mentioned that Maya is pursued by a goon who breaks down a door to get to her; she and Lane fear for their lives after being taken hostage.
The only casualty in the movie is Paul Blart’s poor mother. In flashback we see her get hit and killed by that milk truck as she stoops to grab her morning newspaper.
Paul and Maya exclaim, “Holy crawfish!” We also hear “freaking” and “you suck.” Name-calling includes “idiot.”
Alcohol includes martinis and beer. Characters drink in the hotel bar. One of Paul’s fellow security guards has guzzled so much he passes out while standing up. Lane invites Maya to a hotel-employee party in a posh suite where young employees are drinking from blue plastic cups. There’s a verbal reference to someone being too “hammered” to remember the last time he saw Maya. When a fellow officer invites Paul to have a drink with him, he responds, “I don’t drink.”
Paul does gamble, though, ending up at a craps table where he loses quite a bit of money. Other casino scenes show people at slot machines, etc. Various characters demean professional security guards, as well as Paul’s weight. A security guard’s pants fall down. (We see his boxers.) References are made to throwing up.
“Help someone today.”
That’s the ultimate message of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. And much to the film’s credit, the salient sentiment isn’t utterly undermined by the kinds of comedic content that so often carry movies like this in disappointing directions. Guffaw-inducing chicanery and Three Stooges-like pratfalls are aimed squarely at a 10-year-old audience here. Indeed, children at the screening I attended yukked it up delightedly from start to finish.
Other giggles come from drinking, gambling and someone’s pants falling down, but there’s no outright profanity or vulgarity—something not even the first Paul Blart installment can boast. Even if it’s more likely to receive nominations for a Razzie than an Oscar, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 still deserves credit for dialing down the foulness to a one or two as it spikes the spectacularly silly up to 11.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.