Chicago has always been the jewel of the Midwest, and movie producers know this. As a result, you’ll find an excellent selection of movies filmed in Chicago. Below is a list of what I believe to be must watches. Grab your popcorn and enjoy!
10. Stir of Echoes (1999)
Honestly, I’m not a fan of the horror film genre, but this chilling suspense thriller will capture your attention while you crawl to the edge of your seat. Set in Logan Square, this “lost girl” mystery opens at a Chicago house party. Kevin Bacon plays Tom, a local neighborhood guy who knows everybody’s business. While attending a party, he is hypnotized so deeply that his mind is opened to receive messages from the beyond, revealing a young girl who has been haunting his family. The ghost shows a series of images that lead Tom on a chase to find her- and the suspense begins. Stir of Echoes is great for a Halloween night, or just when you’re looking for a good fright!
9. The Break-Up (2006)
Have you ever watched a romantic comedy and thought how absolutely cliché it all is? They all have the same plot line – girl meets guy, guy does huge romantic gestures, they fall in love and live happily ever after. Well, The Break-Up is definitely not one of those films. Starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, he’s a Chicago tour bus operator and she’s an art curator, both dealing with the real issues that all couples endure at some time during their relationship. The movie realistically, and sometimes uncomfortably, exposes the challenges of living together, the impact on friendships during a break-up, and the raw things that people say to each other that just can’t be unsaid. All this and then having to decide who gets that great Chicago condo after the break-up.
8. Rookie of the Year (1994)
Remember how the Cubs winning the World Series was likened to the term “When Pigs Fly?” Thank goodness for 2016 breaking that curse! GO Cubs GO! But in 1993, Rookie of the Year highlighted how the Cubs would need a miracle to win the World Series. That miracle came in the form of an adolescent rookie pitcher named Henry Rowengarter. After an arm injury heals, Henry has the ability to throw 100 mph fast balls – Aroldis Chapman anyone? The Cubs, in a fit of desperation, decide to recruit the teenager to help them break the “Curse of the Goat.” Gary Busey plays the veteran pitcher to help train Henry to play in the big leagues. Busey’s character is the embodiment of so many Cubs fan- the horribly jaded veteran who has endured years of frustration and disappointment from so many bitter losses. All in all, this movie is a true tribute to Chicago and its beloved Cubbies.
7. Christmas Vacation (1989)
If you haven’t seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, I hope at least that Cold War bunker you’ve been hiding in was comfortable! But really, Christmas Vacation tells the timeless story that all families face each year, trying to make the perfect Christmas to remember. Clark Griswald, played by Chevy Chase, is a Chicago suburbanite who still sees Christmastime with the wonderment and joy of a child, working tirelessly to create that perfect Norman Rockwell feeling. But each new adventure, from buying the perfect tree, to adorning the home with Christmas lights, ends with a certain level of disaster. All this, while hosting parents, in-laws and cousins, each slightly more clueless than the other. In the end, the joy of Christmas shines through and Clark learns that the meaning of Christmas is not to be surrounded with perfection, but to be surrounded by the ones you love.
6. Wayne’s World (1992)
Wayne’s World is the film derived from a skit of the same name made by SNL sketch comedy writers Mike Myers and Dana Carvey. Wayne (Myers) and his buddy Garth (Carvey) get their big break when their local cable access show gets picked up by big time Chicago network company. The pair is the quintessential slacker comedy duo. If I had to bottle up the early 90s and put it on a screen, Wayne’s World would be the result.
5. Adventures in Babysitting (1987)
This 80s comedy classic follows babysitter Kris and her trio of kids on a quest to save her friend Brenda, who is stranded penniless at the train station in Chicago. Kris and the gang head to Chicago but get a flat tire on the way there, beginning an evening of chases, stolen cars, and last minute escapes that rival even the best Scooby Doo episode. It really is your classic adventure that ends with everybody getting back home in time, with no signs of disaster, just in time to trick the parents. I just watched it recently and all I kept thinking was “man, this would have been a completely different outcome if they all would have had smart phones!” To this day, I call the Crain Communications building the Adventures in Babysitting tower!
4. The Dark Knight (2008)
No other director creates a film entrance quite like Christopher Nolan. The Dark Knight starts with one of the most memorable opening scenes of any movie of all time. Masked gunman wearing clown masks, ziplining between skyscrapers, and breaking into Gotham Bank that is none other than the historic Chicago’s Post Office. The film is an action packed cat and mouse game of our hero, Batman, pursuing his ultimate nemesis, The Joker. My favorite scene is the assault on the armored car which takes place on Lower Wacker Drive. The tension runs high, making it extra real for many Chicagoans who remember their first time navigating Lower Wacker (don’t count on a GPS signal down there)! By contrast, check out Batman driving the Batbike through Millennium Station – pure beauty. The film’s cinematography, story line and use of Chicago landmarks makes it one of the most iconic Chicago films ever made.
3. Chicago the Musical (2002)
Alright, so it was filmed in Toronto, Canada (which is kind of like Chicago, I’m told), but I actually couldn’t leave this off my list, so I had to make an exception. Chicago the Musical takes place in the prohibition era, the 20s, where Jazz and illegal hooch reign supreme. The film tells the tale of Roxie Hart, an aspiring singer awaiting her trial for the murder of her extramarital lover. Filled with catchy musical numbers, dynamic dialogue, and vintage costumes, this movie gives a great change of pace from typical prohibition era films that only focused on the mafia and Al Capone. With an all star cast of Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger and Richard Gere, I am always wondering, “Why couldn’t you just film the darn thing here?”
2. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Paris may have the cinematic dedication of “Je t’aime Paris,” but Chicago has the honorable homage of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the ultimate tribute film of Chicago, thanks to director John Hughes. A lot of us (yours included) ditched some days of high school, but none of us did it with the flare of rebellious teenager Ferris. Played by Matthew Broderick, Ferris lures his best friend and girlfriend to have a legendary day romping around Chicago’s must stop attractions, like the Sears Tower and Art Institute of Chicago. Even more than being a bucket list of what to do while in Chicago, it’s a feel good escape back to your teen years and the joy of discovery that will have you singing and dancing (at least in your head).
1. Blues Brothers (1980)
Another film born out of the SNL sketch by the same name, John Belushi and Dan Akroyd, bring their comedic talents to Chicago as “Joliet” Jake and Elwood Blues. The hapless, but well intentioned brothers, decide to bring their band back together in an effort to raise money to save the orphanage they grew up in. The movie is loaded with musical numbers by R&B greats like Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Cab Calloway, complementing the crazy car chases and run-ins with the law. The film ends with a famous car chase jumping the 95th street bridge, resulting in a huge pile up of cars at the corner of Lake and Lasalle. Add in an army raid at the Daley Plaza and Chicago turns out to be as important a character in the film as the brothers themselves. An absolute classic film and a must watch for any true Chicagoan.
Between Chicago’s skyscrapers and proximity to the lake, it will always be a glorious set for films. Hope you enjoy a few of my personal faves. Do you have a favorite movie filmed in Chicago not listed? Comment below and let us know! Contact HotSpot Rentals today if you’re interested in learning more about Chicago apartments for rent! We’ll help you find the perfect apartment in downtown Chicago!