Film Analysis: Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Film Title: Paul Blart: Mall Cop
Year: 2009
Director: Steve Carr
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Comedy

Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Who is the protagonist?Paul Blart.
2. Who is the antagonist?Veck Simms.
3. What is the conflict?The mall is being robbed.
4. What is the theme or central, unifying concept? (summarize in one or two words)Underdog.
5. How is the story told (linear, with flashbacks, flash-forwards, at regular intervals)Linear.
6. What “happens” in the plot (Brief description)?Blart embarrasses himself on numerous occasions in order to impress a woman. When Simms and his goons attack, Blart gets a chance to prove himself.
7. How does the film influence particular reactions on the part of viewers (sound, editing,
characterization, camera movement, etc.)?Why does the film encourage such
Laughter is encouraged through physical comedy. Blart’s underdog nature makes the audience root for him. When he accomplishes something great, it is very unexpected and thrilling for the audience.
8. Is the setting realistic or stylized?What atmosphere does the setting suggest?Do particular objects or settings serve symbolic functions?The setting is realistic. It is a normal mall atmosphere. Blart’s segway represents him as a person. It is a slow, un-sleek vehicle that rises the user above the ground, just as Blart often sees his minor authoritative powers as greater than they actually are.
9. How are the characters costumed and made-up?What does their clothing or makeup reveal about their social standing, ethnicity, nationality, gender, or age?How do
costume and makeup convey character?
Blart’s mall cop uniform makes him a very average looking character. Towards the end of the robbery of the mall, Blart changes into an all black uniform. This marks Blart’s increase in confidence and wit after he had cleverly come up with ways to defeat some of the robbers while impressing his friends.
10. How does the lighting design shape our perception of character, space, or mood?When Blart is going through a moment of deep focus, courage, or ingenuity, the lighting focuses in on him and gets more serious.
11. How do camera angles and camera movements shape our view of characters or spaces?What do you see cinematically?The camera shots often switch from one character to another. This is very present in scenes where Blart is fighting the robbers. This shooting style makes scenes dynamic and makes the audience feel as if they are in the action.
12. What is the music’s purpose in the film?How does it direct our attention within the
image?How does it shape our interpretation of the image?What stands out about the music?
The music emphasizes strong emotions. When Blart was thinking about how he blew it with his crush at the bar, a heartfelt, sad song played. When Blart was preparing to take on the rest of the robbers in his new uniform, “Frankenstein” by the Edgar Winter Group played. This song showed Blart’s mood because it was a song that meant buisness.
13. How might industrial, social, and economic factors have influenced the film?Describe how this film influences or connects to a culture?This film shows that the average person, in this case a mall cop, can become a hero if they are challenged and if they have the bravery to stand up to that challenge.
14. Give an example of what a film critic had to say about this filmUse credible sources and cite sourcesExample: “The Shawshank Redemption Movie Review (1994) | Roger Ebert.” All
Content. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 June 2015.
“Paul Blart: Mall Cop Movie Review (2009).” All Content. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 January 2009. “What’s even more amazing, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” isn’t “wholesome” as a code word for “boring.” It’s as slam-bang preposterous as any R-rated comedy you can name. It’s just that Paul Blart and the film’s other characters don’t feel the need to use the f-word as the building block of every sentence. They rely on the rest of the English language, which proves adequate.”
15. Select one scene no longer than 5 minutes that represents well the whole film and shows relevant cinematic elements.Write a one-sentence description of the scene and record the time of the scene. Example, from 1:05:00 to 1:10:00.Explain why you chose this scene.0:00:00 to 0:03:06. In this film, Blart almost completes a police academy obstacle course, but he fails due to his hypoglycemia. I choose this scene because it shows the general pattern of the movie. Blart starts at a disadvantage. He is clearly shorter than the other trainees and in poorer shape as well. He rises to the occasion and makes it through most of the course with ease where others struggled. But in the end, his hypoglycemia takes him down and he fails the course.
16. In the selected scene: write a sentence for each of the elements below to justify why this scene best represents the film:
a. Screenwriting:The scene’s lack of dialogue and focus on physical movements cleverly tells a story without words.
b. Sound Design:The audio of Blart’s heavy breathing and the leading officer’s voice are the only non-musical things captured in the scene which again represents Blart’s disadvantages and the great task that he faces.
c. Camera Movements/Angles:The scene is shot like a training montage with many slow motion shot which makes subject matter of the event seem like it is more important than it actually is.
d. Light Setup:Natural outdoor lighting is used and later on, when Blart is at home, the lighting just looks like the typical lighting of a house at night.
e. Soundtrack/Score:The choice of music makes the scene feel like it is on the verge of greatness only to be let down.
18. What’s the socio-cultural context of this film?Blart is very much a common working man who has the disadvantage of hypoglycemia, so when he rises to great challenges, he become the hero of the every man.

This worksheet was developed with ideas from many IB Film teachers, thus should remain in the Creative Commons

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