On this 237th birthday of our dear country America, we all band together in our patriotism. Yes, we do have quite the uniting country indeed... despite it being split up into 50 states, all of which vehemently hate the other 49 (especially Jersey).
But as brethren of the same land, we must find common ground. We must find something to appreciate each of the states from which we do not hail. The best way to do that: Movies. Hollywood.com has taken a look at every corner of our land of the free and pinpointed the big screen feature that best exemplifies each of the 50 states. Check below, and see if your home state is represented by a particular favorite of yours.
AlabamaForrest GumpSure, he ran all around the country, but that Greenbow pride stuck with him.
AlaskaOut ColdWacky, off-kilter, and a gem that nobody ever talks about. Just like Alaska.
ArizonaPsychoFrom the creepiest corner of the country comes the creepiest movie ever made.
ArkansasTrue GritRemake or original, both have that AK charm.
CaliforniaCluelessNever before has the Valley been so astonishingly well represented.
ColoradoThe Shining Beautiful and inspiring, but haunting nonetheless — we mean the film and the state.
ConnecticutMystic PizzaSoft-spoken and charming? A little bit sad, but able to laugh? That's Connecticut for you.
DelawareThere are no memorable movies set in Delaware. Sorry, Delaware. Sorry, everybody.
GeorgiaThe Legend of Bagger Vance Ah, that whimsical mystery that soars through the Georgia winds... the kind of mystery only a Will Smith Ghost could convey onscreen.
HawaiiLilo & StitchHawaii is such a fantasy land that only an animated Disney flick could appropriately capture its presence.
IdahoNapoleon DynamiteSlow moving, weird, and possibly ingenious. From the fields of Idaho comes a cult classic that nobody could stop quoting for years.
IllinoisFerris Bueller’s Day Off Danke schoen for Chicago and its favorite son, John Hughes.
IndianaBreaking AwayA sleepy state with firecracker passion gives us a coming-of-age dramedy that can be described just the same.
IowaWhat’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Sad, lonely, desperate, hopeless... No. Not hopeless. Just remember: We can go anywhere.
KansasThe Wizard of OzOh gee, as if there was any alternative?
KentuckyGoldfingerYou don't think of James Bond as a Southern boy, do you? Well, he payed a visit to the Bluegrass State in this classic chapter.
LouisianaSteel MagnoliasThat heartfelt hometown passion for which Louisiana is famous just courses through the beloved modern classic.
MaineCasper The other creepiest corner of the state gives us a slightly more charming ghost story.
MarylandThe Blair Witch Project And we thought the scariest thing in Maryland was Omar Little...
MassachusettsJaws Celebrate Boston pride all you want with The Departed, but Jaws captures everything that a Martha's Vineyardian knows to be home.
MichiganAmerican Pie Great Lakes, great friends, great stories... and hardly a worry in the world. American Pie, you've got Michigan right.
MinnesotaGrumpy Old Men I think just about everyone in Minnesota is in fact 75 years of age or older.
MississippiThe Help Granted, Mississippi has come a long way since the days of The Help, but it still has that connotation...
MissouriWaiting for GuffmanWe'll be honest. We've never been to Missouri. We don't know anyone from Missouri. We have no idea what Missouri is like. But we imagine (and hope) it's exactly like Waiting for Guffman.
MontanaA River Runs Through It That old mountain spirit, that true American flavor, that's what Montana, and this Robert Redford classic, are about.
NebraskaElection We always thought there was something suspicious lurking underneath that oh-so-perfect Nebraska... Tracy Fleck just might be the state incarnate.
NevadaFear and Loathing in Las VegasSorry, Nevada, but you're just Vegas to the rest of the world. Crazy, drug-addled Vegas.
New HampshireLolitaThings are a bit off all throughout the beautiful, jovial, captivating Granite State, and throughout Stanley Kubrick's classic comedy.
New JerseyClerks Angry, grungy, and highly polarizing. Yep. Clerks is Jersey.
New MexicoCity SlickersYes, this movie is about people from other states visiting New Mexico... but isn't that what the real New Mexico is all about, anyway?
New YorkAnnie Hall A symphony of neuroses, heartbreak, and wide-eyed fantasy, Annie Hall is everything that the unstoppable city of New York has to offer.
North CarolinaBull DurhamThis movie is set in North Carolina. So it wins.
North DakotaFargo Oh yah. Quite a sinister tone under this kooky snow-laden state and its signature film, yah.
OhioTommy BoyThe good-natured values of hard work and friendship? That's the cornerstone of Ohio livin', we tell you.
OregonThe GooniesWhen Oregon learned it was finally getting a movie, the entire state cheered: "It's our time."
PennsylvaniaRockyPennsylvania is just another nickname for Philadelphia, right?
Rhode IslandDumb and DumberYes, a good portion of the film takes place on the road (and in a place where the beer flows like wine), but Harry and Lloyd are distinctly, undeniably Rhode Island folk.
South CarolinaThe Notebook That deep, abiding love that can only exist in a small state sheltered from the rest of the world? That can only come from a man like Nicholas Sparks? That can only be appropriately sold through a stunner like Ryan Gosling? Yep.
South DakotaLittle Big ManIt's appropriate that South Dakota's pick is riddled with historical color... and some wacky adventure.
TennesseeThe Blind SideA simple story of family, pride, acceptance, and overcoming adversity. Tennessee should be proud of this Oscar winner.
TexasDazed and ConfusedOf course our Texas pick had to come from Richard Linklater, master of the Lone Star State. And which film better than his most iconic, nihilistic, dreamy high school graduation picture?
Utah127 HoursIn Utah, no one can hear you scream. =
VermontSuper TroopersCall it a mindless stoner comedy, but the Broken Lizard debut packs a lot of that wintry Northeast flavor into its wild, witty mix.
VirginiaThe PatriotAs if there was anything more Virginian. As if there is any state more American.
WashingtonThe Twilight SagaWhat's with the corners of this country being so dang creepy? At least this one has some glitter.
West VirginiaOctober SkyCoal mines and dreams of escaping the coal mines. That's what ol' West Virginia was all about in its day.
WisconsinLars and the Real Girl There's something cold, eerie, and wonderfully beautiful about small town Wisconsin. Ditto Gosling.
WyomingButch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Wyoming, even though we're not entirely sure that you actually exist, you might win the pot with the best movie on the list.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter | Follow hollywood.com on Twitter @hollywood_com
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As with seemingly every other tentpole release to hit the multiplex this summer the action thriller Cowboys & Aliens is based on a comic book – albeit a lesser-known one. It’s directed by Jon Favreau whose previous comic-book adaptations Iron Man and Iron Man 2 proved how much better those films can be when they’re grounded in character. Unfortunately his latest effort is grounded not in character but a hook an alt-history scenario best expressed in the language of the average twelve-year-old: “Like wouldn’t it be awesome if like a bunch of 1870s cowboys had to fight a bunch of crazy aliens with exoskeletons and spaceships and super-advanced weapons?”
Like perhaps. The hook was compelling enough to get someone to pony up a reported $160 million to find out and the result is a film in which the western and science-fiction genres don’t so much blend as violently collide. After the wreckage is cleared both emerge worse for wear.
Daniel Craig stars as Jake Lonergan a stranger who awakens in the New Mexico Territory with a case of amnesia a wound in his side and a strange contraption strapped to his wrist. After dispatching a trio of bandits with Bourne-like efficiency he rides to the nearby town of Absolution where he stumbles on what appears to be an elaborate Western Iconography exhibit presented by the local historical preservation society. There’s the well-meaning town Sheriff Taggart (Keith Carradine) struggling to enforce order amidst lawlessness; the greedy rancher Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) who really runs things; his debaucherous cowardly son Percy (Paul Dano); the timid saloonkeeper Doc (Sam Rockwell) who’s going to stand up for himself one of these days; the humble preacher Meacham (Clancy Brown) dispensing homespun spiritual advice; et al.
Jake of course has his own part to play – the fugitive train-robber – as we discover when his face shows up on a wanted poster and a sneering Dolarhyde fingers him for the theft of his gold. The only character who doesn’t quite conform to type is Ella (Olivia Wilde) who as neither a prostitute nor some man’s wife – the traditional female occupations in westerns – immediately arouses suspicion.
Jake is arrested and ordered to stand trial in Federal court but before he can be shipped off a squadron of alien planes appears in the sky besieging Absolution and making off with several of its terrified citizenry. In the course of the melee Jake’s wrist contraption wherever it came from reveals itself to be quite useful in defense against the alien invaders. Thrown by circumstances into an uneasy alliance with Dolarhyde he helps organize a posse to counter the otherworldly threat – and bring back the abductees if possible.
Cowboys & Aliens has many of the ingredients of a solid summer blockbuster but none in sufficient amounts to rate in a summer season crowded with bigger-budget (and better-crafted) spectacle. For a film with five credited screenwriters Cowboys & Aliens’ script is sorely lacking for verve or imagination. And what happened to the Favreau of Iron Man? The playful cheekiness that made those films so much fun is all but absent in this film which takes itself much more seriously than any film called Cowboys & Aliens has a right to. Dude you’ve got men on horses with six-shooters battling laser-powered alien crab people. Lighten up.
Craig certainly looks the part of the western anti-hero – his only rival in the area of rugged handsomeness is Viggo Mortensen – but his character is reduced to little more than an angry glare. And Wilde the poor girl is burdened with loads of clunky exposition. The two show promising glimpses of a romantic spark but their relationship remains woefully underdeveloped. Faring far better is Ford who gets not only the bulk of the film’s choicest lines but also its only touching subplot in which his character’s adopted Indian son played by Adam Beach quietly coaxes the humanity out of the grizzled old man.