Paul Blart: Mall Cop has a lot working against it. For starters, it's comedian Kevin James' vanity project, which came about, as James told ComingSoon.net, because he wanted to do something like TV's ChiPs. Nothing wrong with vanity projects, necessarily. But unless you're, say, Robert Redford or Clint Eastwood, taking on a lot of jobs in your own movie might wave a few warning flags. In James' case, he's writing, producing and starring as the titular security guard. In the hands of an experienced craftsman, this is no problem. For anyone else, this kind of multi-tasking might be a sign to the moviegoing public that the star in question is too close to the project to know what's not working. And indeed, the film's attempt at viral marketing over the summer was so unfunny that it might prove to be a vaccine against the film.
Then there's the issue of the movie's timing. The plot revolves around a mall cop (duh) trying to outwit a gang of rogue skateboarders who are holding shoppers hostage on Black Friday. That's right, rogue skateboarders. James started filming in March 2008, so it's thankfully not based in any way on the November shootings at a Seattle-area mall, but it's sure to be in people's memories. The main timing problem is that it's a Thanksgiving-time movie, and it's coming out in January. That waves another warning flag that says the studio may not have had enough confidence in the project to release it earlier. Why risk pitting the dorky mall cop against James Bond or Edward Cullen?
Maybe it's the kinder thing to just lock up Paul Blart -- or send him direct to DVD.