Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 Is Criminally Unfunny

Plus, Unfriended offers solid thrills, Monkey Kingdom shines, and Game of Thrones is Certified Fresh.

by | April 16, 2015 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a silly security guard (Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, starring Kevin James and Raini Rodriguez), tech-savvy teens (Unfriended, starring Shelley Hennig and Renee Olstead), and parental primates (the Disneynature documentary Monkey Kingdom). What do the critics have to say?

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2


Despite a lukewarm reception from critics, Paul Blart: Mall Cop was a sizeable box office hit. So naturally, we’re treated to Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, which critics say lacks even the modest charms of its predecessor — it’s indifferently performed, tonally jumbled, and almost entirely bereft of laughs. Kevin James returns as the self-important Blart, who’s been invited to a security guard convention in Vegas. Will our hero overcome gluttony and boorishness to thwart a brazen art heist and rescue his kidnapped daughter? The pundits say Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is a startlingly empty experience, one that James’ inherent likability does little to enliven. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down some of cinema’s most critically-panned second installments.)



At first blush, Unfriended sounds pretty gimmicky: it’s a horror movie that consists entirely of footage from its teenage characters’ computer screens. However, critics say the result is smart and deeply unsettling, a clever thriller that has a thing or two to say about teen angst and modern communication. The plot: on the anniversary of a classmate’s death, a group of high schoolers are being hunted — via Skype — by her malevolent spirit. The pundits say Unfriended is an intelligent blend of form and content that feels utterly contemporary. (Watch our video interview with the cast here.)

Monkey Kingdom


Who doesn’t love monkeys? Critics say Monkey Kingdom might be Disneynature’s best film to date, and its breathtaking footage of primates in the wild makes for action-packed viewing. Narrated by Tina Fey, the film follows a group of toque macaques who live in the Sri Lankan jungle near an abandoned temple, with special attention paid to a single mother and her child who are trying to fit in with their new community. The pundits say Monkey Kingdom‘s stars are a playful, colorful bunch, and if the film sometimes anthropomorphizes them, they’re still likely to please animal lovers of all ages.

What’s On TV:

Bloody action and extreme power plays return full throttle, as Game of Thrones (Certified Fresh at 97 percent) enjoys a new-found liberation from the world of the source material, resulting in more unexpected thrills.

With tight adherence to its source material’s history, high production quality, and a no-nonsense dramatic flair, Marvel’s Daredevil (Certified Fresh at 97 percent) excels as an effective superhero origin story, a gritty procedural, and an exciting action adventure.

Beautifully filmed and brilliantly acted, Wolf Hall (Certified Fresh at 100 percent) masterfully brings Hilary Mantel’s award-winning novels to life.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Alex of Venice, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Chris Messina in a drama about a woman who reinvents herself after her divorce, is at 82 percent.
  • The Oscar-nominated anti-war drama Tangerines, about two immigrant farmers who refuse to abandon their crops even with war on the horizon, is at 75 percent.
  • Felix & Meira, a drama about the tentative romance between a middle-aged atheist and a married Hasidic woman, is at 73 percent.
  • The Dead Lands, an adventure film about a Maori warrior who seeks to avenge his father’s murder and stave off an attack from a rival tribe, is at 60 percent.
  • True Story, a drama about a journalist working on a story about an accused killer who used the reporter’s name as an alias, is at 50 percent (check out our interview with stars Jonah Hill and James Franco).
  • Beyond The Reach, starring Michael Douglas in a thriller about a billionaire hunter who frames his guide for murder after accidentally shooting a man, is at 35 percent.
  • Child 44, starring Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace in a period drama about a Soviet secret police agent on the trail of a serial killer, is at 23 percent.
  • Monsters: Dark Continent, a sci-fi action film about a platoon of American soldiers who must fight off an alien attack, is at 22 percent.
  • The Squeeze, starring Jeremy Sumpter and Christopher McDonald in a dramedy about three troubled young people who escape an institution and go on a road trip, is at 14 percent.
  • The Road Within, starring Dev Patel and Zöe Kravitz in a dramedy about three troubled young people who escape an institution and go on a road trip, is at 13 percent.

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