The Best Movies Filmed in All 50 States (Part 2)
What’s up, fellow MovieBabble fans! It’s your girl, Kali, back at you again with part 2 of this highly acclaimed, Emmy award-winning series! In the first part of the series, we traveled from Alabama to California. Today, we’ll be taking a more exotic tour to scenic states like Hawaii, Maine, and Idaho; we are just taking another step on our journey through the 50 states! Even if you’re not American or haven’t seen your state yet, I hope you can find some new films to enjoy!
Hawaii — Jurassic Park (1993)
Hawaii is one of those places everyone wants to visit at one point in their life, but I’m not sure if Jeff Goldblum is one of those people; I would think that nearly being eaten by dinosaurs isn’t the most pleasant vacation memory. In the 1993 classic Jurassic Park, John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) has figured out how to bring dinosaurs back to life; that ends up about how you would expect it to. As a monstrous T-Rex devours everything in its path, we get to enjoy the lush green jungles and hills of Hawaii. A beautiful backdrop for a film with stunning CGI (especially for its time) and lots of dino destruction. Also, the humidity makes for a nice shirtless Goldblum scene.
Idaho — Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
I could’ve chosen any number of films for Idaho — ones that were more critically acclaimed and popular. But nothing will ever come close to Preston, Idaho’s own Napoleon Dynamite. I don’t know how many of you have ever been to the southern Idaho area, but Napoleon Dynamite is a good representation of what life is like: flat, boring, and a lot of cows. But I love this movie. It’s so stupid and yet it’s so hilarious and remarkably quotable. Not to mention, this is the film Jon Heder got his start on. Napoleon Dynamite perfectly sums up the Idaho aesthetic that I know everyone is jealous of. And it has a great dance number featuring Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat.”
Illinois — Sixteen Candles (1984)
Not going to lie to you guys — Sixteen Candles is such a bizarre film. Yet, that’s what makes it such a classic. Starring Breakfast Club alumni Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall, plus Justin Henry and Michael Schoeffling, we follow Samantha (Ringwald) on her sixteenth birthday, which turns out to be the worst day of her life. The choice to film in Illinois was a genius decision by John Hughes — what better place to film a typical American teenager’s life than in the typical American Midwest? Honestly, all of John Hughes’ 80s films could have been great fits for this list, but Sixteen Candles is just special. It has great slapstick humor, goofy gags, and the underlying hint of teenage angst that makes every 80s coming-of-age film so much fun to watch. It definitely hasn’t aged well, but it undeniably defines its era.
Indiana — Hoosiers (1986)
Something you need to know about me is I love sports films. They’re just so inspiring and they get me pumped to do some sportsing. Hoosiers is no different — it is a fantastic basketball film. Something else I love about Hoosiers is the fact that it was filmed entirely in Indiana. We are taken on a journey through the Hoosiers state with the Hoosiers basketball team themselves. Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper are both fantastic in their roles. The team has their heartwarming, heartbreaking, humorous, and intense scenes that really tie the movie together. It’s a truly American film taking us through the heart of the country and into a time-honored sport.
Iowa — Field of Dreams (1989)
Nothing better captures the feel of Iowa than baseball, Kevin Costner, and whispering corn fields with strange men in them. You ever want to know what Iowa is like? It has corn. Lots of corn. But Field of Dreams also introduces us to a less celebrated aspect of the Midwest: its neighborly communities and magical undertones. Of course, the magical undertones can often be more sinister, like Children of the Corn (1984); however, Field of Dreams shows the more joyous side of that magic. It shows us the purely American pastime of baseball, hot dogs, and hanging out at the baseball diamond with good friends. With a great cast — including Timothy Busfield, Ray Liotta, James Earl Jones, Frank Whaley, and Burt Lancaster — and a fun, heartwarming story, it’s a great American film.
Kansas — Bad Company (1972)
Now here’s a film that many haven’t heard of, which is a shame. Starring Jeff Bridges and Barry Brown, Bad Company is a cross between a buddy movie and a western — which is honestly a perfect combination. Filmed on the flat prairies of Kansas, we follow these two fellows on their journey to escape the draft and civilization. Like any good western, Bad Company includes shootouts, hangings, outlaws, horses, and some good old-fashioned tongue-in-cheek humor. While traversing the monotonous Kansas country, our leading men become great friends and learn about life in general. Despite this being an obviously low-budget western, it’s a great production.
Kentucky — Elizabethtown (2005)
Sure, it’s not the most amazing romantic comedy I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely a cute one. Elizabethtown stars Orlando Bloom as a young man who falls in love with a flight stewardess (Kirsten Dunst) on his way to Elizabethtown, Kentucky. A scene that stands out from this film is the phone call leading into the sunrise. The dialogue is stimulating yet simple and the cinematography between the two settings is charming. Near the end of the scene, we get to take a journey through the Kentucky fauna in the early morning hours, which is a treat for the eyes. The landscape is beautiful and makes this romance even more captivating. Not to mention, listening to Orlando Bloom struggle to imitate an American accent the entire film is quite a treat.
Louisiana — Steel Magnolias (1989)
Dolly Parton is a national gem and she truly shines in this film; she deserves every award this world can give her — but I’m getting sidetracked. Steel Magnolias takes place in the deep South and it never lets you forget that. Southern accents, hillbillies shooting birds in their backyards, beautiful lush landscapes, and that revered Southern hospitality all pepper this film. Not to mention, this film has an array of magnificent actresses: Parton, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Julia Roberts, and Olympia Dukakis. The only thing I hate about this film is that it makes me cry. However, it does make me laugh. And, as Dolly Parton says, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”
Maine — The Cider House Rules (1999)
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more beautiful historical fiction film. The film stars Tobey Maguire as a man trained as a doctor in an orphanage by another doctor played by Michael Caine. After a while, he decides he wants to go out and see the world, and the world is beautiful. Maine is an absolutely gorgeous state. The rolling green hills go on for miles; the sea is an awesome blue expanse. It makes me long for New England, though I’ve never actually been there. The Cider House Rules has a wonderful setting, an intriguing plot, interesting characters, an enchanting score, and a talented cast (Charlize Theron and Paul Rudd also star). It’s an artfully crafted film that really stays with its audience.
Maryland — The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Ah, The Blair Witch Project. The horror film that spawned a thousand parodies and imitators. But nothing quite lives up to the original. Filmed in the beautiful and haunting forests of Maryland, we follow three filmmakers — Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, and Michael C. Williams (those are both their real names and their character names) — on their journey to find the local Blair Witch legend. Of course, as happens in all thrilling horror movies, the characters are idiots and do everything wrong and it’s delightful to watch. With its off-putting character, the Maryland forest itself creates a spectacular sense of dread throughout this horror. Add that to some unique cinematography and some startlingly realistic dialogue and you have the perfect horror film.
Thank you for reading! What are your thoughts on Part 2 of Best Movies Filmed in All 50 States? Comment down below!
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