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Paul Blart Mall Cop, Kevin James

Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc

Review in a Hurry: Think Die Hard in a mall. An ineffectual security guard (Kevin James) must save the day when thieves raid the megaplex and take hostages. Not a bad premise, but most of the comedy just dies. Hard.

The Bigger Picture: The King of Queens guy hikes it to the Garden State for his first leading-man role. Though the corpulent comedian is adept at throwing his sizable girth around, he needs something more substantial than a thinly scripted actioner stuffed with fatty jokes.

Unable to pass the state trooper exam, divorced dad Paul Blart (James) works as a security officer at a New Jersey mall, zipping around on a Segway. Like a flabby Barney Fife, he takes his job way too seriously, berating an elderly man for reckless scootering and wrestling a zaftig woman in Victoria's Secret. Ugh.

Lonely Blart harbors a crush on Amy (Jayma Mays), a doe-eyed salesgirl at a hair-extensions kiosk, but his attempts to woo her fall flat—often literally, with pratfall after pratfall. James displays moments of sweetness and might've made this lug lovable. Unfortunately, the pic spends its entire first half repeatedly proving what a pathetic putz Blart is, so he becomes more annoying than endearing. (Someone should take tips from classic John Candy pics.) 

Finally, on Black Friday, robbers shut down the mall and sequester hostages in the bank, Amy among them. It's up to Blart to find resourceful ways—sans gun—to conquer the crooks. Slapsticky chase scenes showcase James' talents as a physical comedian, but it's usually the same gag over and over—his bumbling and fumbling inadvertently thwarting the thugs. Plus, the heist plot takes illogical turns, such as the random appearance of Blart's young daughter at the locked-down mall, just so she can be put in harm's way. 

Mall is a cheaply made, bargain-bin movie dumped into the after-Christmas clearance season. Wait for a discounted rental.

The 180—a Second Opinion: The high-tech thieves are like a cool team of X Gamers, dude, speeding through stores on skateboards and BMX bikes. No, it's not credible, but it's totally badass!