Kevin James: The Box Office 'King of Queens'
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.
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.
"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 email@example.com.
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