Paul Blart 2, Comin’ Atcha

Paul Blart: Mall Cop is an over-performer that has massively exceeded studio box office projections, which of course guarantees the sequel I’ll be coming on to in a minute – but why has it done so well?

Apparently because “a large number of parents bought Mall Cop tickets with their kids (rather than simply dropping off)” and “the film played surprisingly well outside of major cities.” That’s according to the LA Times. They also go on to quote Jeff Black, Sony Pictures Entertainment VP:

“The other secret weapon was that it did proportionally even better in the middle of America than it did in Los Angeles and New York. There’s an audience that maybe isn’t all involved in the Oscar movies.”

The film was originally developed from a concept by star Kevin James under the watchful eye of Sony exec Doug Belgrad. Belgrad now wants a sequel. “Happy Madison historically has been very reluctant to do sequels, but we believe there is an opportunity to make another Paul Blart movie.”

I guess middle America are now smiling, and NY and LA are just shrugging. Definitely so if Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Deliverance and The Hills Have Eyes got their interstate politics right. (Disclaimer: my wife is from Kentucky).

Now, I haven’t seen Paul Blart: Mall Cop – I’ve never even seen a real Mall Cop as such in the UK, so maybe the film will get something of a soft release over here – and it feels wrong to prejudge it, so… you tell me. Is it as bad as I’ve been told it is? I’d appreciate some sensible and considered answers. What’s wrong with it, exactly? And, if it’s so bad, why the big box office?

Belgrad has assumed a reason for the film’s success. “People see themselves in this guy. They love it when a guy who isn’t given credit for being good at anything succeeds.”

But surely films like that come and go month in and month out? Isn’t that a central tenet of Hollywood Cliches number 8 and 11?

I doubt the success has much to do with Paul Blart/Kevin James’ popularity on “Bear” websites, but this kind of outside approach to what seems like such a conservative film is at least interesting, if not sometimes amusing.

This film really has been a smash by any measures I’m aware of. I’m fascinated. I can’t quite get a handle on what it is people are responding to. But I’m also curious to see if there is some kind of quality to the thing, some kind of wonderful conceit or matter of construction that gave it such a leg up.

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