One of my favorite podcasts only releases one episode a year and focuses exclusively on a movie that critics and audiences hate.
âTil Death Do Us Blartâ is half podcast and half solemn blood pact. Five adult men have agreed to watch and discuss “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” once a year until their deaths. Before moving on, they must choose a successor to take their place, a rite that will continue until the inevitable implosion of the universe. There is no way out.
It is an eternal torment that no one has asked them to undertake, but they endure it with monastic discipline.
The original âPaul Blart: Mall Cop,â which stars Kevin James in the title role, broke a record in 2009 as the first film released in January to earn more than $ 100 million. That was enough to warrant a sequel, which has a critical score of 9% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 13 out of 100 on Metracritic.
“Nothing released by WikiLeaks could be more destructive to Sony’s reputation than the release of ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2”, “wrote critic Justin Chang in his 2015 review for Variety,” The Kind of Film That goes beyond mere mediocrity to offer possible proof of a declining civilization.
Technically, I watched âPaul Blart: Mall Cop 2,â but almost everything I know about the movie is filtered through the lens of this podcast.
Longtime hosts are Griffin, Travis, and Justin McElroy, who produce an advice show called “My Brother, My Brother, and I,” and Guy Montgomery and Tim Batt, a comedy duo who (I’m pretty sure) started this podcast. format when they watched “Grown Ups 2” once a week for a full year.
By the end of the first episode of âTil Death Do Us Blart,â it became clear that these men have exhausted most of the surface themes of this film. The film is bad and above all not funny. What more could you say?
How, the listener wonders, are these boys going to extract the timeless content of a film that doesn’t deserve serious analysis?
Soon, participants are weaving fantastic threads out of thin air. In one scene, Paul Blart fights a peacock while an unfazed man plays the piano in the background.
This man, the boys decide, is actually an immortal being called “The Shadowman,” a mythical figure who tries to test mild-mannered mall cop Paul Blart through a series of trials. Why else would he be so unfazed that a big bird hit a big man? (This made-up treat actually ended up on IMDb’s official trivia page.)
Each year, their ideas get more outlandish. In 2017, Griffin watched âPaul Blart: Mall Cop 2â synchronized with âDark Side of the Moonâ by Pink Floyd. Justin recently watched it in French.
They also speculated that the entire last half of the movie – after Blart nearly fell into a hypoglycemic coma – is actually just a dream conjured up by Blart’s sick, sugar-deficient mind.
How else could a twisted man and a handful of his mall security friends outsmart a gang of hardened art thieves?
Each episode follows a similar trajectory. Boys keep track of the number of times they laugh, a number that has never been high but has steadily declined over the years. They revisit their favorite scenes, including one with a very ripe, very wrinkled banana peel, and talk about Ana Gasteyer, who they say is one of the few redeeming parts of the film.
They also run through a few anecdotes – sometimes expressing the same degree of excitement for a fact that they also shared the year before (“Did you know one of the writers also voiced Salem the Cat in” Teen Sabrina witch?” “).
It’s hard to describe why I love this podcast. Of course, it’s fun to watch five grown men desperately empty the meaning of a movie that’s totally unworthy of the effort. However, âTil Death Do Us Blartâ also acts as an absurd criticism of content creation – one that I can understand.
Journalists have daily deadlines, and while it can be rewarding work, we often spend so much time worrying about the next story that the act of reporting can seem meaningless.
âTil Death Do Us Blartâ helped put this sentiment into context. Being a journalist is difficult, but at least I don’t have to watch âPaul Blart: Mall Cop 2â once a year until I die.