They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Or at least that’s what I’m going to tell myself, because I find myself completely ripping off the Beer and Whiskey Brothers blog yet again. They should feel like the most flattered people on earth at this point because this is at least two or three times I’ve “borrowed” from them. But hey- they do beer and whiskey, I do movies and TV. Amazingly, ideas about both can be applied cross-discipline. So with apologies to Jim and Don over there, I present to you The Super Bowl of Movies (Wherein I Compare Cinema Based in Green Bay to Cinema Based in Pittsburgh).
Unfortunately, it’s not exactly comparing apples to oranges here. Green Bay is a teeny, tiny city (101,000 residents). The whole county has 247,000 residents. By comparison, Pittsburgh has 312,000 residents, and Allegheny County has 1.2 million residents. Green Bay would seem to be at a bit of a disadvantage. After all, the more residents you have, the more likely you are to have films based on your area. So I’m going to level the playing field a bit and allow all films based Wisconsin into the fray. And to be completely fair, if there’s something in Pennsylvania that’s noteworthy (but isn’t based in Philadelphia), I’ll allow it as well. So what are the respective resumés for these two regions?
FILMS BASED IN WISCONSIN (per the Wiki page)
Come and Get It (film)
Dawn of the Dead (2004 film)
Flags of Our Fathers (film)
For Keeps (film)
The Giant Spider Invasion
In the Light of the Moon
The Incredible Hulk (film)
Lars and the Real Girl
Michael Clayton (film)
The Night Listener (film)
Our Vines Have Tender Grapes
Public Enemies (2009 film)
The Straight Story
Wayne’s World (film)
The World’s Best Prom
The good: American Movie is hilarious, and one of my favorite documentaries. If you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favor and check it out. The wacky ‘Sconnie guys the movie is based on are at their quirkiest, funny accent-iest best. I’ve never seen the movie that they’re making when the documentary was filmed (a lovely little horror flick called Coven) but it looks downright Ed Wood-esque.
BASEketball wasn’t exactly a shining cinematic achievement, but there are definitely some laughs to be had, particularly if you’re a fan of Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
Michael Clayton was a fine film. It was nominated for several Oscars. I have no idea how the hell it’s related to the state of Wisconsin, though. So I’ll count it as a positive, but only a small one. Similarly, Public Enemies was pretty fun, but it was only partially based in Wisconsin. The Straight Story was incredible… but only a very small part of it is based in Wisconsin. All three of these add up to basically one positive, not three positives.
Wayne’s World was a killer little early 90’s comedy. And it’s where Alice Cooper taught us that Milwaukee “is pronounced mill-e-wah-que which is Algonquin for the good land.”
The bad: Love Actually gets great reviews. It’s also a rom com, which means that if you give any kind of a shit about the Super Bowl, you probably don’t care too much for Love Actually. That’s a strike, Wisconsin.
Dogma is great but it features this dialogue, which certainly isn’t a point in Wisconsin’s favor:
I saw that movie in a theater in Madison. When that line was uttered, the crowd looked around at each other like everyone else in the theater had collectively farted. It was as if everyone was thinking, “All of YOU people are the reason that joke was made!”. It was kind of awesome, actually.
Dahmer is a biopic about Jeffrey Dahmer. He’s from Milwaukee. There’s nothing wrong with the movie itself. But like the line in Dogma, movies about cannibalistic rapist serial killers who are from your state aren’t going to be shown by the state’s Department of Tourism.
Mr. 3000… really, Bernie Mac? Really?
Dawn of the Dead was actually a really good horror movie. So why is it in the “bad” pile? Because, as we’ll see in a few minutes, it was a re-make of an even better original film that was based in Pittsburgh.
The indifferent: I’ve never seen Lars and the Real Girl. I have no idea what part of Flags of our Fathers took place in Wisconsin. The same goes for The Incredible Hulk. And neither of those movies stand out to me in any way. And I haven’t seen the rest, either. There are also two other movies not listed- Wisconsin Death Trip and The Godfather of Green Bay. I’ve never seen those. If I wanted to cheat and stack the deck in favor of my beloved Packers, I’d throw Back to School in the mix. It was filmed in Madison, and it’s very obvious that it was filmed in Madison. But I’m going to keep this a clean fight.
FILMS BASED IN PITTSBURGH, PER THE WIKI PAGE
Dawn of the Dead
The Deer Hunter
Diabolique (1996 film)
The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh
Groundhog Day (film)
Innocent Blood (film)
The Mothman Prophecies (film)
Zack and Miri Make a Porno
For the record, I only picked and chose the films I’ve seen.
The good: Bob Roberts is admittedly a pro-left film. But I also think it’s smart satire and Tim Robbins does a fine job as the title character.
Creepshow is one of my favorite horror anthologies ever. Keeping with horror, Dawn of the Dead (the 1978 version) is my favorite zombie movie ever and it has a really awesome subtext that pokes fun at consumer culture.
Innocent Blood is John Landis’ fusion of the mafia and vampires. It was very much worth seeing, if not amazing. It teeters on the brink of “The good” and “The indifferent’.
The Mothman Prophecies is only a small point, as the bulk of it happens in West Virginia and Ohio. But I loved the movie. It’s one of my favorite horrors. Or… whatever genre it was.
Stigmata did a fine job of melding together faith and fear, much in the same vein as The Exorcist. Clearly, it wasn’t the same quality, but it was still a very solid horror offering.
Groundhog Day is something of a new classic, favored by many. And The Deer Hunter is one of the best movies ever made.
The bad: Flashdance is to Pittsburgh as Love Actually is to Wisconsin. Even if you think it’s a good movie, odds are good there’s not much overlap between Super Bowl fans and Flashdance fans.
Diabolique is a shameful re-make of an amazing classic.
The indifferent: I haven’t seen The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh. I only listed it because the name is awesome and people should be aware of it. I was somewhat “meh” about Zack and Miri. I definitely laughed at a lot of it but I wouldn’t fool myself into thinking it was a huge point in Pittsburgh’s favor. Martin and Kingpin sort of fall into the same category as Stigmata and Innocent Blood. Essentially, I mildly enjoyed all four, I’m glad I watched all four. The “good” part of that quartet is that there’s strength in numbers.
As you can tell, I didn’t even bother to include other Pennsylvania films as I said I would. I wound up limiting it to Pittsburgh only. And that’s because the moment I saw the Pittsburgh list, I realized that it was a technical knockout. Green Bay and Wisconsin didn’t even make it to the 3rd round. With an assist from George Romero, Pittsburgh dominates the horror category. But it’s not just Romero. After all, The Mothman Prophecies, Stigmata, Creepshow, and Innocent Blood aren’t Romero films. And aside from horror, Pittsburgh has birthed two classics- Groundhog Day and The Deer Hunter.
So hoist the mighty Droidbardi Trophy, Pittsburgh. You are the winner of The Super Bowl of Movies.*
*P.S. I still hope the Steelers get their ass kicked by my Packers this Sunday.