The movies filmed in Minnesota are both a blessing and curse for our fair state. They introduce outsiders to settings familiar to us, like a frozen lake or downtown cityscape. They also showcase some of the subtle humor to be found underneath our generally reserved exterior. At the same time, however, they can contribute to the impression that Minnesota is a frozen wasteland of passive-aggression and bland food.
Though the 12 movies on this list get their fair share of laughs at the expense of tried-and-true stereotypes, they also do a good job showing off what our state has to offer, whether through the obscene barbs of ice-fishing grandpas or the musical gifts of a certain purple-clad god among men.
Here they are, in no particular order.
Jingle All the Way (1996)
Five Minnesota Movies from the '90s that would make marvelous musicals
Top 15 books set in Minnesota
Do you want to see Arnold Schwarzenegger fight Sinbad inside Mickey's diner? Of course you do. But unless you have the money and connections to make that happen yourself, Jingle All the Way
is pretty much your only option. This silly family holiday flick follows mattress salesman Howard Langston (Schwarzenegger) as he attempts to make up for not paying enough attention to his son by getting him TurboMan, the hot new toy of the season.
Of course, he waits until the last minute, and along the way he runs into zany obstacles at a variety of Twin Cities locations, including the Mall of America and downtown St. Paul (check out the skyways in the above pic of Schwarzenegger's futile chase). Ironically, the climax of the film, a mock-up of the Holidazzle parade re-named the Wintertainment parade, is one of the few scenes not filmed in Minnesota.
Grumpy Old Men (1993)
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau star in this comedy about two aging Minnesota neighbors with a long history of animosity. The comedic veterans feud over everything, from ice fishing to the women next door, trading barbs laced with profanity and pranks one might not expect from either the elderly or rural Minnesotans. The ice fishing scenes, including the disaster of John Gustafson's (Lemmon) ice house, were filmed on Lake Rebecca in Rockford, and the hometown of the two curmudgeons is a fictionalized version of Wabasha. The town still hosts a Grumpy Old Men
festival every February with ice fishing, cribbage, and a pet pageant.
Young Adult (2011)
The film stars Charlize Theron as Mavis Gray, a recently divorced writer of young-adult fiction who leaves her apartment in Minneapolis for the fictional Minnesota town of Mercury to try to break up her high-school sweetheart's marriage. It does not go well, to put it mildly, and her attempts to win back her adolescent love reveal a host of character flaws. Did we mention this is comedy?
Though some of screenwriter (and City Pages alumna) Diablo Cody's films are set in Minnesota, Young Adult
is the only one to be filmed here -- or, the location shots at least. You can see City Hall and the Metrodome from the view out of Mavis's apartment.A Prairie Home Companion (2006)
For those who live in St. Paul, it's not a particularly strange occurrence to see Garrison Keillor in the flesh, red shoes and all. Those unlucky souls who don't share the joy of living in the most livable city in America will have to make do with the silver screen version of the broadcast legend. A Prairie Home Companion
, director Robert Altman's last film, is a comedy centered on the production of the long-running radio variety show featuring such luminaries as Merryl Streep, Woody Harrelson, and the always professional Lindsey Lohan. All but one of the scenes -- an epilogue filmed in Mickey's diner -- were staged in St. Paul's Fitzgerald Theater, from which the radio show is broadcast and performed weekly from now into the foreseeable eternity.