If you thought the only thing that could have made 2009's "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" better was if it took place in Las Vegas instead of West Orange, New Jersey, then you're in luck. "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2," opening April 17, does indeed bring Kevin James's gung-ho security guard to Vegas, where his misadventures continue. The film stakes a place in Las Vegas history by being the first production that casino mogul Steve Wynn allowed to shoot at his Wynn Las Vegas resort.
Movie Vegas, like the real Vegas, is a place where everything seems more fun and more dangerous. It's a playground for the id, where money can buy pretty much anything, and where sex, stimulants, and sirloin steaks abound. It's also a location for morality tales, which are a little hard to swallow with all that licensed fun going on.
Vegas movies also often rip away the curtain and offer a backstage view of how the town really operates -- or at least how it operates in the popular imagination. That's why even movies about Vegas that aren't that great -- and some of the movies on the following list aren't that great -- are still fascinating. Put together, they show the evolution of the city and how it came to loom so large in our collective fantasy life.