The 12 best movies filmed in Minnesota

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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.

See Also:
Five Minnesota Movies from the '90s that would make marvelous musicals
Top 15 books set in Minnesota

Jingle All the Way (1996)
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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)
   
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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)

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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)

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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.



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42 comments
joeydbreck
joeydbreck

Dear Jonathan McJunkin,

You've got it wrong about the pic from Jingle all the Way in which you wrote, "along the way he runs into zany obstacles at a variety of Twin Cities locations, including...downtown Minneapolis (check out the skyways in the above pic").  This isn't a downtown Minneapolis skyway; it was filmed in downtown St. Paul.  In the pic, we see Gov. Inseminator running down Wabasha Street, passing the Children's Museum to the right, and away from the former Dayton's building one block behind him on the left (with the Skyway to nowhere).  If he kept on running down the middle of the street screaming in German, he'd cross W 7th and pass the Fitzgerald theater on his right.  Just wanted to give props where it's due to Downtown St. Paul.

Hmmm
Hmmm

"Drop Dead Fred" not being on this list makes this list null ans void.

heliosphere2003
heliosphere2003

Sure 'Purple Rain' was included, but what about 'Purple Haze'?!

Timm McCoy
Timm McCoy

1. Major League - The Minors (Scott Bakula) I was IN IT! 2. "Bill's Gun Shop" (John Aston) I was IN IT! 3. "Sugar & Spice" ( With Marla Sokoloff, Marley Shelton, Melissa George, Mena Suvari.) I WAS IN IT! All GREAT Minnesota Movies. City Pages doesn't know SHIT! Hey kids, The wont even put in the BEST Category "BEST PODCAST IN MINNESOTA! Me Again! www.ppltv.net/podcast.html 12 MILLION SUBSCRIBERS According to ITUNES!

_Joe_
_Joe_

Okay, this voice nation software sucks ass.

olive
olive

Don't you people have anything nice to say? Like, how nice that someone even cares that movies have actually been filmed here? I think it's a pretty comprehensive list, omission of 'Factotum' included, and honestly, it's just a silly list.

timothy62
timothy62

How about Iron Will (1994 - Kevin Spacey, David Ogden Stiers, Mckenzie Astin)? Far North (1988 - Sam Shephard, Jessica Lange, Charles Durning, Tess Harper)? Wild Rose (1980s)?

MichaelMayket
MichaelMayket

Matt Dillon does not play the character in BEAUTIFUL GIRLS that you think he does.

ryanstrandjord
ryanstrandjord

No SWEET LAND or FACTOTUM? This list is a joke...

Ryan Strandjord
Ryan Strandjord

Whoever wrote this article should see Sweet Land. It's a better film than almost all 12 already on the list. Also, Contagion was filmed in Illinois, not MN. I also agree with Oscar, Factotum was a really great little film. Should have also been included.

Tracy Jay
Tracy Jay

WHAT??? "Drop Dead Fred" didn't make this list?? LOL!!!

Oscar Quella
Oscar Quella

Did I miss it by skimming? Was Factotum really not on the list???

Tracy Jay
Tracy Jay

Purple Rain....Beautiful Girls....Untamed Heart! ALL 3 were great movies filmed in our wonderful State of Minnesota. :-)

Danielle Marie
Danielle Marie

Sugar and Spice. COME ON!! That was my first go at being an extra :D

Kenny Peterson
Kenny Peterson

Grumpy Old Men was great- but Grumpier Old Men was even better.

Erik Riesterer
Erik Riesterer

Gotta go with Drop Dead Gorgeous. Absolutely hilarious!

Gina Theknife
Gina Theknife

I can't believe you didn't have North Country on there that was an amazing movie!!!

alpasa04
alpasa04

what about The Outsiders?

Blake Hanson
Blake Hanson

Quack... quack... quack.. quack quack quack GOOOOOO DUCKS! (Grumpy Old Men is also one of the funniest movies ever.)

Emily Bollensen
Emily Bollensen

Beautiful Girls is an awesome movie. But anything by the Coen brothers is by far Minnesota's best claim to fame.

James477
James477

Scenes were shot in Minneapolis though. I was standing on Nicollet mall when Arnold suddenly drove by right in front of me in a camera rigged car!   Didn't see myself in the movie though  :(

MikefromMinnesota
MikefromMinnesota

My little brother was an extra in Mall Rats....look in the jewelry store he is the young man looking at a wedding ring with a girl..

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