Paul Blart Mall Cop * * * ½
Directed by: Steve Carr / 2009
Kevin James is Here to Stay…
I like “Paul Blart Mall Cop”. I like Kevin James even more. I think it’s becoming easier to shrug off low-brow and brainless comedies like this, but sometimes they surprise me. I think it takes a lot of brains to make a comedy today that doesn’t trade its heart for its underpants (or lack thereof) and foul humor within ten minutes. Sometimes even those types of movies surprise me, such as the co-piloted James vehicle “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry” and others without James like “You Don’t Mess With The Zohan” and anything that Judd Apatow has his brains in. But, I think it takes guts to make a movie for adults and children. Now we find that Kevin James himself can win a box office weekend without the help of Will Smith or Adam Sandler or even crude humor and gross-out comedy. Kevin James’ Paul Blart may just be a dumpy mall cop, but he is a sweet, warm-hearted guy who pays attention to the details of his duty on the job and off as a father and friend. I think I’m starting to find a film replacement for the beloved John Candy. No, not because Kevin James is a large man nor because he is the embodiment of the guy next door, but because a big heart is shining a presence on the silver screen. And I’m watching.
Taken * * * * ½
Directed by: Pierre Morel / 2008
Hell Hath No Fury Like Bryan Mills Scorned…
I don’t feel the word “better” applies correctly to this sentence, but in a way you can think of “Taken” as a better-produced version of the classic-brilliant ‘80s movie “Commando.” Ahhnold’s Col. John Matrix is one of my all-time favorite fatherly killing machines and Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills is close behind. Get these two together (hide their daughters of course) and they’ll be sure to find Osama Bin Laden before supper and every new terrorist and bad guy born that day. The story is simple from the get-go: Government ex-killing machine and single father loves daughter…Daughter is kidnapped by bad guys…Father tracks her down using amazing skills...Father kills every bad guy in his way to get her back. It’s so simple, yet so effective. And when done well, it can be quite brilliant and a joy to watch. Is joy the right word when you run out of body bags? Why not?! Bryan Mills doesn’t take the names of the bad guys, rather, to paraphrase “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, he tears open their rears, steps inside and spray paints “Bryan Mills Was Here.” I’m quite taken with “Taken” and wish to own it as it’s one of the best and most enjoyable father-knows-best-action-thrillers to come along since “Commando.” -djg