As Spin-ematical alerted you earlier today, the cinematic wonder that is Paul Blart: Mall Cop is now available on DVD and Blu-ray for our movie-loving paws. But that doesn't mean we want it. (I hope!) Why go for the "harmlessly humorless" when you can revel in true commerce comedy?
There are a number of better options to satisfy your yearnings for officers of the shopping law and mall mayhem. Most of them are funny, one is downright scary, and all offer something both entertaining and worthwhile. And that's the key -- isn't it? Being entertained without feeling like we've been lobotomized?
Read on for my selections, and be sure to comment with your own favorite mall mayhem movies. Beware: some of the following clips are full of f-bombs and adult language, so NSFW.
If you want to stick to the justice of armed law, why go further than the sinister La Fours? He might not be able to stop Jay and Silent Bob's many crimes before they happen, nor ultimately defeat them, but he does get crafty with the drugs. Outside of La Fours' watchful eye, there's everything from young prodigy sex writers to Stan Lee. It doesn't get the love that other Kevin Smith films do, but it's insidiously catchy, and you should watch Mallrats for Jason Lee, if nothing else.
After the early '90s, it looked like Pump Up the Volume helmer Allan Moyle was leaving his delightfully quirky fare behind. But then he returned to form with Weirdsville. While most of the film does focus on a pair of slackers who try to bury their unconscious friend (who they assume is dead), they do head to a mall and meet a formidable foe in a 4'1" security guard played by Jordan Prentice.
Dawn of the Dead or Dawn of the Dead
The lone comedy-free film of the bunch, Dawn of the Dead takes mall love to a new level -- making it the safe home against re-animated and plagued, flesh-eating zombies. Pick the one that most suits you -- whether that's classic George A. Romero action, or Zack Snyder's take (Sarah Polley ... in a horror film!), which scored a spot on Scott's Seven "Horror Remakes that DON'T Suck!" -- "the new DOTD is a fast-paced, exciting, and oddly disturbing little experiment. Doesn't touch the original, of course, but c'mon, who really thought it could?"
Naturally, Terry Zwigoff helming a film about Santa wouldn't be normal. Just look at his previous films, Crumb and Ghost World. A great anti-Christmas story, the twisted account has Billy Bob drunk as Santa, before he got drunk for the radio, as he and his elf case the joint for a little holiday robbery. As Roger Ebert said in his review: "You expect a happy ending, but the ending is happy in the same sense that a man's doctors tell him he lost his legs but they were able to save his shoes."
If there's a film that could never thrive without the mall, it's Clueless, the movie that took a gratingly avoidable premise and whipped it into a fun and memorable romp about overcoming airheadedness. It's not a surprise that Fast Times at Ridgemont High also came from Amy Heckerling, but it was a welcome surprise that Clueless followed Look Who's Talking Too -- a definite improvement.
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
A goofy comedy like many on the list, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure does have its bit of specialness -- seeing how historical figures would react in the world of 1980s malls. We're talking about Beethoven rocking out to Extreme's "Play with Me," Joan of Arc exercising, and just to bring it back to Blart, they're all trying to avoid the mall cops.
Observe and Report
Okay, now I'm cheating, but really -- it's more a lesson in patience. If you want to see a film from 2009 that delves into the world of mall security, wouldn't you rather wait for Seth Rogen's well-praised example? There's really no contest, even with the controversy.