Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 full movie review - Bigger Doesn't Mean Better
If bigger always guaranteed better, then "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" would surpass the original.
As it is, this long overdue sequel about a buffoonish, hypoglycemic security guard at an obscure New Jersey shopping mall is neither as funny nor as fresh as its haywire predecessor. "You Again" director Andy Fickman has replaced "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" helmer Steve Carr for this harmless but predictable PG-rated laffer. Aside from either its change of setting or the elimination of two original characters, little has been altered for this lightweight action farce. Anybody who missed the 2009 original should know "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" was a parody of the classic Bruce Willis thriller "Die Hard," with a colorful villain whose identity generated the biggest surprise of the film. Nothing about the identity of the criminal mastermind in "Paul Blart, Mall Cop 2" is surprising. Indeed, we know who he is from the get-go, and actor Neal McDonough struggles to make this colorless mastermind memorable. Original "Blart" scribes Nick Bakay and star Kevin James have complicated the "Die Hard" plot with an elaborate "Ocean's Eleven" heist. In a nod to "The Expendables," the blundering Blart assembles a motley crew of older security guards armed with non-lethal weapons and pits them against a trigger-happy gang of younger adversaries with lethal weapons. Since you know Blart and company cannot fail, this action farce delivers its best laughs with sight gags that have little to do with its formulaic tomfoolery. The best scene in "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" has nothing to do with the heist. Our bumbling hero runs afoul of an exotic bird that gives him a royal pecking and sends him packing.
"Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" opens with our newlywed security guard discovering that his wife Amy (Jayma Mays) wants a divorce after six days of marriage. No sooner has Blart coped with this tragedy than he contends with another devastating disaster. Blart's mom Margaret (Shirley Knight of "Grandma's Boy") sets foot in the street to retrieve the newspaper. Out of nowhere, a milk truck mows down the dear old dame in a crude example of slapstick comedy. Now, the woebegone Blart is despondent because everybody but his teenage daughter has left him. All this occurs during the first quarter hour. Things change for Blart when he receives a letter with an invitation to attend the annual security guard convention in sunny Las Vegas. What our unsuspecting hero doesn't know is that his dutiful daughter, Maya (Raini Rodriguez of "Babysitters Beware"), has just qualified to attend UCLA in California. Wisely, Maya declines to let her distraught dad know about UCLA until she thinks he can handle her departure, too. Meanwhile, Maya and Blart check into the luxurious Wynn Las Vegas hotel and casino; the entire film serves as product placement for the casino. While Maya and Blart unpack in their room, an unscrupulous criminal mastermind, Vincent (Neal McDonough of "Flags of Our Fathers"), plans the crime of the century. Systematically and secretly, Vincent's gang of high-tech hooligans loot the hotel of art treasures on display and replace them with replicas. Inevitably, it is only a matter of time before Blart and Vincent tangle. This dramatic collision takes place because Maya and Blart quarrel about her extracurricular activities at the hotel. She wants to enjoy the sun and fun of Vegas without her domineering dad hovering over her shoulder. Earlier, when they unloaded their luggage, Blart did his best to discourage any chance of a romance between Maya and an attractive valet, Lane (David Henrie of "Grown-Ups 2"), who wanted to help handle their luggage. Anyway, Maya ignores her father and accompanies Lane to a party in the hotel. An anxious Blart tries to contact Maya on her cell phone after she disappears without a word to him. Blart is convinced that Maya has been kidnapped. Reluctantly, Maya tries to return his call, but the party is so noisy that she has to go into another room. Maya walks right in on the nefarious Vincent and his goon squad masquerading as hotel personnel. Predictably, chaos ensues. When Lane follows her, Vincent's hooligans take him hostage, too.
"Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" confines virtually all its action to the Wynn Las Vegas hotel and resort. Clearly, the filmmakers had the run of the joint because the cast rarely ventures outside to tour any of the other Sin City sights. Most of the scenes that occur inside the hotel look as if director Andy Fickman recreated them on a sound stage so as not to interfere with Wynn's business. Meantime, James and Bakay learned from the first film not to provide their rotund protagonist a romantic interest like Amy. Reportedly, James and Bakay wrote Amy (Jamya Mays) out of the sequel because Mays had scheduling conflicts between her television series "Glee" and "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2." Sequels that eliminate characters, unless the actors die in real life, sacrifice some of their continuity. Mind you, Mays would have been a welcome addition to the cast. Rather than providing Blart with another drop-dead-gorgeous gal, the writers have him play 'hard-to-get' with a hapless hotel manager, Divina (Daniella Alonso of "The Collector"), who reluctantly finds herself attracted to him. This creates comic conflict between Blart and Divina's jealous boyfriend Eduardo, who happens to be the hotel security chief, and Eduardo tries to upstage the presumptuous Blart. Most of the antics that James indulges in other that careening around for laughs on his Segway involve routine, uninspired slapstick. Aside from his flap with an exotic bird, James' second best scene occurs when he fills in at the last minute as the conference keynote speaker. "If you believe the purpose of life is to help yourself, then your life has no purpose," he proclaims to applause. "Help someone today!" Altogether, "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" isn't as hilarious as its witty predecessor, but it is not a total bust.