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Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (2015) movie poster Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

Theatrical Release: April 17, 2015 / Running Time: 94 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Andy Fickman / Writers: Kevin James, Nick Bakay

Cast: Kevin James (Paul Blart), Raini Rodriguez (Maya Blart), Neal McDonough (Vincent Sofel), Daniella Alonso (Divina Martinez), Eduardo Verแstegui (Eduardo Furtillo), David Henrie (Lane), Shirley Knight (Margaret Blart), Gary Valentine (Saul Gundermutt), Ana Gasteyer (Mrs. Gundermutt), Nicholas Turturro (Nick Panero), Loni Love (Donna Ericone), Shelly Desai (Khan Mubi), Vic DiBitetto (Gino Chizetti), D.B. Woodside (Robinson), Bas Rutten (Henk), Steffania De La Cruz (Kira), Leif Gantvoort (Carlos), Chelsea Vincent (Nadia), Geovanni Gopradi (Ramos), Conrad Goode (Scott), Nico Santos (Heath), Robert Clendenin (Muhrtelle), Jackie Benoit (Elderly Maid), Eric Genuis (Pianist), Lauren Ash (Mindy), Jackie Sandler (Attractive Lady), Steve Wynn (Himself), Andrea Wynn (Herself)

Buy Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD • DVD • Instant Video

In January of 2009, two movies surprised Hollywood with their unseasonal, unforeseen success. Taken, opening on the final Friday of the month, turned long-respected Irish actor Liam Neeson into an American action movie star. Earning back its modest budget many times over, that hard PG-13 vehicle would yield two sequels.
Two weeks earlier, Paul Blart: Mall Cop demonstrated the drawing power of Kevin James, previously untested as a solo movie lead. Similarly grossing around $145 M on a $25 M budget, the PG-rated comedy would seem to open doors for the longtime "King of Queens" star. A Paul Blart sequel probably wasn't a bad idea, especially since production company Happy Madison Productions had experienced little prior success on films not starring its founder Adam Sandler.

Alas, six years is a long time to wait for a comedy sequel. When Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 finally opened in theaters April 2015, James' star had been diminished by the box office disappointments of The Dilemma, Zookeeper, and Here Comes the Boom. Even a number of recent Sandler-headlined Happy Madison comedies had underperformed, chipping away at his enduring commercial clout as he left longtime home base Sony for a Netflix distribution deal. Critics haven't often been kind to Sandler or James and most of them disapproved of the original Blart. Anticipating more venom, Sony did not screen the second Blart for the press. Reviewers who saw the movie with the public opening weekend on their publisher's dime almost universally trashed the sequel, with only 6% of them likening the film to a fresh fruit considered a vegetable for culinary purposes.

Paul Blart (Kevin James) tries his hand at craps in a Las Vegas casino in "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2."

You know you're in trouble when The Smurfs 2 star Jayma Mays disappears after making just a brief cameo. Her kiosk vendor, Blart's love interest in the original movie, divorced him after just six days of marriage, returning mustachioed mall cop to sad sack status. Making things worse, Blart's beloved mother (two-time Academy Award nominee Shirley Knight) is killed off by a milk truck, leaving the twice-divorced, heavyset West Orange, New Jersey resident to raise his teenaged daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez) entirely on his own.

Paul's spirits are lifted when he gets asked to attend the Security Officers Trade Association's annual convention in Las Vegas. As he's opening that invitation, Maya is discovering she's been accepted to UCLA, a fact she hides to serve one of the movie's dumber subplots. The uncoordinated fat man and his overgrown daughter head to Sin City, the legend of his past heroics one Black Friday starting to fade. There, Blart gets to show off his Segway skills, fend off the "advances" of his luxurious hotel's attractive general manager (Daniella Alonso), and mingle with his fellow ridicule-subjected security guards.

It just so happens that the same weekend of the convention, a group of high-tech criminals are also in town to rob the Wynn Las Vegas of its priceless works of art. The sharp-dressed crooks (led by Neal McDonough) wind up butting heads with Blart, who is armed with an assortment of nonlethal weapon prototypes including a gun that shoots marbles and a taser that only disarms for five seconds. Naturally, Maya, who has been secretly partying with an unbelievably friendly valet ("Wizards of Waverly Place" alumnus David Henrie), gets caught in the middle of her father's conflict.

The world's most generic high-tech criminal (Neal McDonough) makes the mistake of checking into the Hotel Wynn the same weekend as Paul Blart and his daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez).

I've repeatedly defended Adam Sandler's movies as a longtime fan of his brand of comedy. The work of his friends/colleagues, e.g. Rob Schneider and David Spade, that he has produced is often harder to appreciate. But the original Paul Blart was a movie I enjoyed thoroughly. It was a witty, good-natured comedy that managed to turn a setting we're all familiar with (the mall) into the site of a competent action adventure,
resembling a PG-rated Die Hard. There were some iffy aspects, like the gang of high-jumping tattooed skateboarders. But the pluses outweighed the minuses and James' humorous unlikely hero was easy to root for.

Paul Blart 2, however, feels like the world's least timely sequel. No one was clamoring for a follow-up and James' dearth of productivity (his only movie since 2012 was Grown Ups 2) was bound to give this project an air of desperation. The six-year delay was not to allow time to get it right or to clear schedules of actors who have become busy and in-demand. It was probably four years of James not wanting to repeat himself, followed by two of allowing himself to revisit the only true solo hit of his film career. The sequel has not brought a significant increase in budget (the leap to $30 M is less than six years of inflation) or talent. Like the first film, James has written this one with his occasional "King of Queens" scribe Nick Bakay (whose biggest achievement to date in my eyes is voicing the black cat Salem on "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch"). The sequel has even opted for a directorial downgrade, replacing sequel and subpar family film helmer Steve Carr (Daddy Day Care, Dr. Dolittle 2) with Andy Fickman, who might just have the worst r้sum้ of any director steadily employed in Hollywood today with such schlock as The Game Plan and Race to Witch Mountain to his name.

Fickman can't deserve too much blame for Paul Blart 2. This is a sequel that never finds a reason to exist. Chief failure for that must lie in James and Bakay's unimaginative screenplay and in the studio that approved it. The original movie deserved better than this tacky sequel, which feels increasingly like those terrible rarely theatrical family films starring the likes of Hulk Hogan, Larry the Cable Guy, or Jackie Chan. There are only so many fat jokes you can take without cracking a smile. Between those, the movie is filled with product placement, from showcasing the Wynn to the usual ubiquity of Sony electronics, primarily smartphones here. The supporting cast is comprised of a bunch of "that guy" actors, including James' tailcoat-riding brother Gary Valentine and fringe Happy Madison player Nick Turturro (younger brother of John).

The inherent comic appeal of James is stretched very thin. You're ready for the movie to be over around the one-hour mark, just as it is beginning its obligatory action plot. The antagonists of this film are every bit as groan-worthy as the predecessor's and far more generic. No one expects the likes of Neal McDonough to steal the show, but it'd be nice for the bad guys to at least pose a believable threat and present an obstacle for our hypoglycemic hero to overcome. It's all pretty predictable and perfunctory, right down to the ending when Blart insists that Maya attend UCLA instead of a local New Jersey tech college. What a guy. He even allows his love interest to seek happiness with a less hefty, more Latin man.

Paul Blart (Kevin James) gets to deliver the keynote speech at the SOTA convention. In what should surprise nobody, Paul Blart's new love interest (Daniella Alonso) is also both younger and skinnier than he.

This movie felt so untimely you expected it to bomb, despite the goodwill earned by the leggy original. As such, the sequel's $70.4 M domestic and $104 M worldwide grosses are at least close to being able to classify this as a success, in light of the modest budget, the low expectations of an off-season opening, and the general rough patch that both Sony and Happy Madison are in the midst of. While no one should misinterpret the numbers as proof of demand for a third Paul Blart outing, they at least confirm this was no fiasco. And even though approval ratings may be lower on this than most, there is still more entertainment value to derive from this retread than other bad movies of any genre.

Next Tuesday, Sony treats the second Mall Cop to a DVD and the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack reviewed here.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Thai, English DVS, French DVS)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish, Thai, English DVS, French DVS)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, Indonesian, Korean, Spanish, Thai
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English, Chinese, French, Spanish, Thai
Release Date: July 14, 2015
Suggested Retail Price: $38.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($30.99 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is a film whose technical virtues no one would extoll as anything more than a passably polished studio comedy. Nonetheless, this 1.85:1 movie upholds Sony's high standard for high definition, with a vibrant, spotless element and suitably engaging sound design in 5.1 DTS-HD master audio. Sony also fits the disc with a host of foreign language subtitles and dubs, a testament to the global appeal that Kevin James' movies have decidedly not shown to the extent of their contemporaries.

Kevin James hams it up for the camera to the amusement of co-star Daniella Alonso in the gag reel. Director Andy Fickman shows off plans for an action sequence in miniature model form.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

A copious selection of all-HD Blu-ray bonus features begins with a long gag reel (7:42) which preserves goofs and ensuing improvs plus plenty of cast and crew playfulness.

Next up are six short deleted scenes (4:15),
which give us a little more of the casino heists and supporting characters.

A number of making-of featurettes follow.

"Security Force: The Cast of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" (4:55) celebrates the cast, giving many actors a few moments to describe their character and fun work. "Action Adventure!" (5:57) supplies behind-the-scenes looks at the film's set pieces of stunts and action. "Back in the Saddle" (1:58) simply shows James and his stunt double working the Segway.

"How to Make a Movie" (4:12) lets director Andy Fickman tell us about the different crew members and what they do. "La Reve" (4:49) documents what happens when the Las Vegas show crosses paths with a Kevin James comedy. "No Animals Were Harmed..." (2:15) shows us that Kevin James really wrestled with a puppet in his random scene of fighting an exotic bird.

Richie Miniverini struggles to pitch a bean bag gun in these outtakes. Kevin James, Raini Rodriguez, and Justin Henrie take direction from Andy Fickman in this photo gallery still.

"Sales Tactics with Richie Minervini" (3:27) shows the bit part actor struggling to do his bean bag gun convention pitch. "Real Cops" (1:16) lets a couple of wiseguys who are supposedly Las Vegas PD vouch for Paul Blart's methods.

A photo gallery, which can be viewed as a slideshow or as a viewer-navigated gallery,
is comprised of 47 behind-the-scenes images.

Finally, "Previews" repeats the disc-opening trailers for Aloha, Pixels, Hotel Transylvania 2, Grown Ups 2, Here Comes the Boom, and Zookeeper. No trailer for either Paul Blart movie is included.

The DVD only includes "Security Force" and "How to Make a Movie."

Each disc's main menu attaches score to a static Paul Blart shot. As always, Sony authors the BD to resume playback and also allows you to set bookmarks on the film.

Inside the slipcovered, side-snapped blue keepcase, we find an insert with Digital HD and Sony Movie Rewards information and a promotional booklet including a code for a free 8" x 8" Shutterfly photo book accompany the silver DVD and full-color Blu-ray.

Paul Blart (Kevin James) is backed up by a ragtag team of eccentric security officers.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

As someone who maintains fondness for the original film, I am disappointed to report that Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 isn't much better than critics stated. This unnecessary sequel gives us more fat jokes and generic conflict, this time while showcasing a swank Las Vegas resort. There just isn't much joy, fun, or originality to be derived by this untimely retread.

Sony's Blu-ray combo pack boasts high quality picture and sound plus an okay 40 minutes of extras. It may be worth a curiosity rental for those who like the first film, but they should keep their expectations low.

Buy Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Kevin James: Paul Blart: Mall Cop • Grown Ups • Grown Ups 2 • Zookeeper • Here Comes the Boom • Hotel Transylvania
Directed by Andy Fickman: You Again • The Game Plan • Race to Witch Mountain
The Hangover • The Spy Next Door • The Santa Clause (3-Movie Collection) • Last Vegas
Comedy Sequels: Hot Tub Time Machine 2 • The Hangover Part III • Horrible Bosses 2 • "Crocodile" Dundee II • Think Like a Man Too

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Reviewed July 12, 2015.



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