Chubby Police Academy reject, Paul Blart, works as a Mall Cop at a nameless (and pretty faceless) New Jersey Mall. In fact, semi-tragic sap that he is, the store has become his life; his friends all work there, and he’s even got a flourishing infatuation with the cute Amy, who runs one of the concessions. But one evening, the mall is taken over by dastardly robbers intent on scamming the credit card machines, and Paul Blart (Kevin James) is the only one who can stop them……
So the movie’s a bit like Home Alone for grown ups. Lots of cunning devices, prat falls and hapless bad guys. It’s no, by any means, a great movie, but it’s sweet enough in its predictability. And no one swears. At all. That’s got to be good, right?
What amused me though, was that the filmmakers had hoped to shoot in a place called Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, New Jersey. However, the brilliant Mall owners / managers denied permission. Maybe they thought the production would be too disruptive? Maybe they didn’t like the crime theme of the plot? Maybe, just maybe, they should have remembered the old adage that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” and realised that a block buster movie could have driven foot traffic by the hundreds to their credit-crunched tenants? But they didn’t. What losers.
Principal shooting moved to the Burlington Mall in Burlington, Massachusetts, filming from late February until mid-April. The mall and its stores were decorated with Christmas decorations, and there was a large prop ball-pit in the main foyer, and a Santa’s Village at the opposite end. Interior filming took place mostly at night, to minimise disruption. And the result? As of May 17, 2009, Paul Blart: Mall Cop had grossed $177,031,353 at the US box office – that’s $177 million of advertising for Burlington, Massachusetts, and not New Jersey. I hope the Willowbrook managers are sufficiently chastened by their missed opportunity.