Are Zac Efron & Michelle Rodriguez Getting Serious?

Kevin James: The Box Office 'King of Queens'

January 22nd, 2009 11:19am EST
Kevin James(TJAGS is a weekly column) In the last week, over a five day span, the three following things have happened: A man whose father was born in Kenya was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States; a commercial airliner crashed -- two miles from my apartment -- into the Hudson River and everyone survived; and, perhaps most surprisingly, a Kevin James movie became a blockbuster number one hit at the box-office. If there was ever a time to fly to Vegas and take a futures bet on 'Hell freezing over' or 'pigs flying' or 'Mickey Rourke winning an Oscar,' well, may I suggest: "soon."

I have a mea culpa, of sorts, to deliver. See, I like Kevin James. One of my biggest regrets of the interview with Nicole Sullivan was not discussing Kevin James. I think in the back of my head I wanted to avoid the subject because I was afraid that I might let it slip that I thought Paul Blart: Mall Cop was a bad career choice for him. In fact, I was telling that to anyone who would listen.

I loved James on The King of Queens. As stated before on these pages, I think that show got a bit pigeon holed but was actually quite clever, not to mention top-notch acting. I think James was the best thing about the Will Smith vehicle Hitch and Adam Sandler's I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. I really thought this was James's best chance at success on the big screen; the goofy sidekick with a heart of gold.

Man, was I wrong. Paul Blart: Mall Cop shattered all expectations; taking in nearly $40 million over the holiday weekend. To put this in perspective: The oft-advertised Jim Carrey film, Yes Man, only made $18 million on its opening weekend. That same weekend, Keven James's former co-star, Will Smith, saw his movie -- the critically panned Seven Pounds -- open to $14 million. Kevin James is officially a movie star now; he has proven he can open a movie by himself. And honestly, unless you count the guy who played the weird kid, Todd, in Wedding Crashers, this movie is all Kevin James.

Kevin James in Paul Blart: Mall Cop

For the benefit of this column, I saw the new box-office-king Paul Blart: Mall Cop when, in reality, I really didn't need to. My expectations were pretty dead on: OK enough movie, I guess, for what it is; a few laughs here and there; and James does what he can with the material (though, I do have to acknowledge any movie that includes a montage set to Survivor's "I Can't Hold Back"). But, I think this proves: the success of this movie was not about the material; the success was all about Kevin James.

You may ask: Why does this deserve an entire column topic? Well, sometimes it's pleasing to see one of the nice guys in Hollywood win. Not only win, but really break through to a completely different level. This is because, well, in troubled times it is nice to see an underdog win, yes? Then again, maybe I should have seen this coming; it's not like it is as preposterous as something like, say, the Arizona Cardinals making the Super Bowl ... something I can assure you -- mark my words -- will never happen.

Mike Ryan"Truth, Justice and Gordon Shumway" (yes, that is ALF) is a weekly column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan which appears Wednesdays, focusing on pop-culture current events. For any comments or complaints, you may contact Mike directly at


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