Thanksgiving is okay, but let's be honest, the day after Thanksgiving is so much better.
While Thanksgiving is all about eating poorly seasoned turkey and fuming at your boomer dad who won't stop whining about "illegals" (and failing to grasp the irony of doing so on a day celebrating the genocide of indigenous people at the hands of white, European colonialists), the day after Thanksgiving is all about the movie Paul Blart: Mall Cop.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop - watch the trailer www.youtube.com
Don't be fooled by the janky trailer that seems like someone edited out a laugh track. In stark contrast to its Tomatometer score of 33%, Paul Blart: Mall Cop is inarguably one of the greatest crowning achievements of American cinema. No, I'm not joking.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop tells the story of one Paul Blart, an obese New Jersey man who wants to be a cop but can't pass the physical fitness test because of said obesity. So instead, Paul Blart becomes a mall cop who takes his job way too seriously. Lucky for him, on the night of Black Friday (that's the day after Thanksgiving!), a group of thugs decide to pull a mall heist (no, that doesn't make sense), and it's up to Paul as a low-wage mall employee to save capitalism as we know it.
If you've never bothered watching an Oscar-winning drama, you might be shocked by the ferocity with which Kevin James (who also co-wrote the movie) approaches the role of Paul Blart. Take this scene, for instance, wherein Blart accidentally drinks an entire pitcher of margarita and then assaults a lot of people in a restaurant. When Blart shoves pineapple into a man's mouth and then climbs on a booth to grab another man's head before hurling the restaurant's old, hired singer offstage, Kevin James transcends traditional physical comedy. This isn't just your typical goofy bumblef*ck bumbling around. You can see a dark fire in Paul Blart's eyes and a latent rage bubbling just beneath his squishy surface.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009) - Getting Wasted Scene (2/10) | Movieclips www.youtube.com
The darkness of Paul Blart has not gone unnoticed by fans, with some comparing the Paul Blart franchise (there is also a Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2) to the incredibly depressing Japanese masterpiece, Neon Genesis Evangelion––an anime about children growing up in the remains of an apocalyptic, technologically advanced future. Considering Blart's violent fury coupled with his attachment to his segway, the Evangelion comparisons practically write themselves.
Just look at how well Paul Blart fits into the Evangelion intro.
【新世紀エヴァンゲリ/Shin Seiki Mall Cop/Neon Genesis Mall Cop】 OP #1「A Cruel Angel's Thesis」by Yoko Takahashi www.youtube.com
But Paul Blart: Mall Cop isn't just another Evangelion rip-off. Whereas Evangelion approaches its dark subject matter through a distinctly Japanese lens, Paul Blart is patently American.
The true horror of Paul Blart: Mall Cop is that the apocalyptic hellscape he resides in is, in reality, just the current state of American capitalism and consumer culture. The movie's metaphorical precision is laser-sharp, and it's no mistake that Blart––a low-skill, low-wage mall employee tasked with saving a capitalist structure from which he does not benefit––faces both his greatest triumph and his greatest sadness on Black Friday––a day dedicated to sales. It is as if the movie is shouting at us: "Don't you sheep see that this is all a sham? Don't you realize that, like Blart, we've been tricked into tying our very identities to consumer capitalism?" In this light, Blart's rage is the quiet rage of the American underclass, working so hard to protect a system that doesn't protect them. His outbursts are the protests of the people, and his eventual defeat of the thugs is the sad, ultimate complacence that seems to overcome us at the end of the day.
After all, we still need to eat, right? Then, once we're full, we're primed to go out and spend money again. Rage, eat, spend, repeat. That's the true capitalist spirit of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and no movie better reflects this reality than Paul Blart: Mall Cop.