Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

I’ve seen worse. This year alone, I’ve seen at least two movies (Johnny Depp’s Mortdecai and the God-awful Hot Tub Time Machine 2) that were markedly worse than Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. That’s not to say Kevin James’ latest is a comedic tour de force (or even mildly amusing, for the most part), but it’s harmless enough, and I’ll cop to a few chuckles along the way.

Six years after the first film, James is back in all his fat-shaming glory as Blart, a mall security guard who takes his job just a wee bit seriously– almost as seriously as James himself takes his ability to prat fall. The plot finds Blart and his daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez) enjoying a quickie vacation in Vegas at the annual Security Officer Trade Show. Some bad guys, though, led by Neal McDonough, are in town, too, intent on stealing priceless works of art from the hotel.

There’s not a thing in the sequel that we didn’t already see in the first film–Blart awkwardly sliding across the floor, displaying his Segway, er, prowess (?), and running headfirst into an unbreakable glass door–but he’s still fairly likeable, and he certainly throws himself into the role.

Director Andy Fickman (Parental Guidance) doesn’t bring anything groundbreaking to the festivities (you quickly get the sense it’s a movie that anyone could have capably helmed), and the screenplay by James and co-writer Nick Bakay is just as lazy. I’m fairly sure they had a list of “jokes” left over from the first movie and were happy to finally find a place to use them.

Still, despite all that, you can’t help but enjoy yourself at least sporadically– provided you accept the fact that the flick is nothing more than a showcase for James, as he reminds us early and often that he’s overweight, shameless, and very, very enthusiastic… about everything.

The best praise I can offer is that there’s nothing criminally offensive about Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. And that any chance I get, I’ll watch a Kevin James movie before sitting down for another Johnny Depp-driven debacle. Ever.

2.5/5 stars