Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 does all it was created to do: exist. For Sony and Kevin James to once again cash in on the success of their $146 million-grossing surprise 2009 hit, all they had to do was make a product that resembled a film—something around 90 minutes with a beginning, middle, and end. Whatever happened in between all of those points didn’t matter so much as long as people could pay money to watch it.
It didn’t have to have any jokes. The closest thing that the movie has to a running gag is pointing out that Paul genuinely cares about his “silly” working-class job, and it’s a punchline that he drives a Toyota. There didn’t need to be any emotional pull. Paul doesn’t want his daughter to leave for college, for no other reason than to create tension for the family to resolve at the end. There didn’t need to be much of a story, which has Paul foiling an art heist in Las Vegas that’s completely unrelated to him until his daughter wanders into it. The movie doesn’t even have to take place in a mall—there are literally two scenes set there.
The sad thing is that it appears the filmmakers behind Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 understood these expectations and just went through the necessary motions to meet the bare minimum. The result—a cinematic shoulder shrug—is far from the worst movie that you’ll ever see, but you might leave wondering why you, the people on the screen, or anyone else in the theater even bothered.