As customary during holiday season, many of us visit our local malls. No doubt, with each visit to that large commercial edifice, there are uniformed “officers” patrolling our venue of abject consumerism.
There are several ideas that do not come to mind when we innocently lay our eyes upon such non-assuming individuals. For example, we do not think of them as bastions of personal protection, nor do we think of gut-busting comedy. Certainly, a quick glance at the man or woman donning a jacket with the word “security” stamped somewhere on its surface will not conjure up thoughts of LOL or LMFAO.
Even more absurd are a group of extreme athletes acting as terrorists and taking the mall hostage, all in the name of cashing in on the amount of money being exchanged at the local mall during the final days before Christmas. Of course, if such a scenario were to happen in real life, the last person we would expect to save the day is a mall-hired unarmed patrol officer with a portly belly and a 1980s-style mustache who failed the state police physical exam eight times.
Of course, if your name is Paul Blart and you work at the West Orange Pavilion Mall in New Jersey, such a storyline is not so bizarre. In fact, that bizarre storyline is exactly what moviegoers will stumble across on January 16th, when Paul Blart: Mall Cop hits the silver screen.
Delivering heart-warming performance in a way only he can, Kevin James makes the Paul Blart character likeable and easy to root for.
Blart patrols the West Orange Pavilion Mall to hold him over until he eventually becomes a police officer. Too bad for Blart, he always fell short in his trials at the New Jersey police academy.
“I wanted to play a character that I felt very confident about and really connected to,” James said about the title character. “Hopefully, the audience can connect (with Blart) and really root for him.”
“We just knew this was a character that could be very funny and engaging, and fun to watch,” added James, who plays a single, suburban dad trying to make ends meet as a security guard at a New Jersey mall. “He’s an everyday man. The guy’s a hero in the end.”
While we continue to root for Blart throughout the remainder of the movie, Paul Blart: Mall Cop is full of charming moments capable of turning our frowns upside down. There is even quite a bit of adrenaline-pumping action, after the extreme athletes doubling as organized crooks take over the mall, featuring a wide array of stunt moves and sequences usually reserved for more serious, big-budget flicks.
“When you look at me, I give an action-figure vibe,” James jokingly said. “It’s innate.”
While he joked about his action-hero traits, James was actually inspired by classic high-octane movies.
“I grew up loving movies such as Die Hard and Rambo,” James said. “I thought, why can’t I play that? Why can’t a bigger, out-of-shape, kind of inept guy play this character? I thought it would be funny.”
Funny as the idea seemed, it is quite possible James was not always laughing on set.
“It was hard,” James frankly told Buzzine. “I was getting banged up and bruised everywhere.”
The concept of making a movie about a mall cop is admirable, while action sport stars doubling as villains and terrorists is definitely a unique twist.
“We just wanted to do a different twist on it,” James told Buzzine about relying upon X-Games stars to act as extremes sports terrorists. “We wanted to make this as non-typical as possible. Instead of typical bad guys, we wanted to really rip up the mall in a way these guys do. It’s something I had never seen before.”
Of course, not everything in the action-comedy flick is twisted, as there are several signature moments we expect to see in a Kevin James movie.
Sure, we chuckled when his character first lay his eyes upon the beautiful Amy (Jayma Mays) and crashed his segway into a mini-van inside the mall, denting its rear door and fender. Naturally, we giggled when Blart was a little drunk and made a fool of himself at a local bar. It was hard not to laugh a little bit when Blart tried to break into a greeting card shop, only to ricochet off the locked glass doors after running full-speed into it. Certainly, we found it funny when Blart tried to slide behind a mall advertisement for protection yet did not quite make it all the way.
“This character means the most to me,” James told Buzzine. “This is the most physical project I have ever done. I’ve become this guy the most. I am most proud of this character.
“People will identify with him, root for him, and go on this journey with him.”