Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mall Cop

Gloria wanted to go see "Slumdog Millionaire" on Saturday night, and I agreed.

Secretly, I wanted to go see "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," even though I knew that "Slumdog Millionaire" was a much better movie.

We drove up to the theater about ten minutes before the movie time, and it was a zoo. This theater is, bizarrely, incredibly popular, even though I wouldn't even put it in the top ten in terms of quality of facilities. It shows more indie movies, though, and it's always packed.

"Look at that line," Gloria said. The line for tickets was thirty or forty deep. "That's insane."

"I'll let you off in front and you can get in line," I said.

"There's no way we're getting into that movie," she said. "It's got to be sold out, and if it isn't, we'll be sitting in the front row."

"Man, that's a shame," I said. "I really wanted to see it."

"Me, too," she said.

"Gee, I wonder if there's anything else we could go see," I said.

Gloria looked at me blankly for a few seconds. "I don't know," she said. Then I smiled. "Oh, no," she said. "No mall cop movie!"

"Paul Blart, Paul Blart," I chanted. "Showing in forty minutes at the high-definition theater."

"Good grief," she said. "How did this happen?"


While we waited for the previews to begin--I kid you not--the mournful theme to "The Godfather" was playing. "That seems appropriate," she said.

So we watched "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," and I'm sorry to say that the 27% rating it has at Rotten Tomatoes is entirely deserved. At the end, I turned to Gloria and said "Man, I wish that had been a funny movie."

This is the strange part, though, for a movie that wasn't funny: I laughed. A lot.

How is that possible? I thought about it on Sunday, and I think I know why. There were a ton of five-second moments from Mall Cop that made me laugh (which is why it has such a great trailer). A ton! But almost every single one of those five-second moments was discrete.

Slapstick, and comedy in general, is all about building. One of the reasons I enjoy Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) so much is that he knows how to build a gag. He takes one funny moment and builds on it multiple times, until the last gag is four times as funny. As far as slapstick goes, he's a genius, and I love slapstick.

That's what Mall Cop lacked. Kevin James is very likable as an actor, and he's very funny as a physical comedian, but the gags never went anywhere. He's credited as one of the screenwriters, too, so it's his own failing.

Like I said, there are lots of laughs, but there just aren't any LAUGHS--those moments where you can't even breathe because you're laughing so hard.

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