Blart: The Boy Who Didn't Want to Save the World
Having given the world Harry Potter, publisher Bloomsbury now gives the kids a very different kind of fantasy hero. 14-year old Blart doesn’t want to save the world. Or wash. Or do pretty much anything else between the two. All ugly, cowardly, lazy, stupid Blart wants to do is tend to his pigs. So he’s not too happy when a wizard kidnaps him and forces him on a quest to save the world from the evil Lord Zoltab. Curse those ancient prophecies!
Part Shrek, part Terry Pratchett, part Monty Python, Blart is also, sadly, considerably less than the sum of its parts. It attempts to invert fantasy clichés in much the same way as Shrek, but does so with considerably less charm and wit. The plot is a ploddingly linear series of setpieces, while the characters never develop beyond broad brush strokes. Blart is as unlikeable at the end as he is at the start, which may be a postmodern dig at Disneyfied tales with life-affirming messages about kids discovering their true worth, but also makes him intensely irritating and hard to care about.
There are undeniably many funny moments and amusing concepts – especially a race of impossibly polite people who have trouble with the concept of queuing – and 12-year old boys will enjoy some of its more gruesome elements (there’s plenty of tongue slitting). The thin and repetitive storytelling, though, may leave the Potter generation feeling slightly halfchanged.