Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Lights, camera, Wisconsin: Nine films set in the Dairy State

We all know about the ‘Prince and Me’ and its terribly inaccurate version of the Rathskeller, but hear are some quirky movies you may not have heard of
Photo courtesy of Group 1 International

What if a “Sex and the City” sequel were set in Madison, Wisconsin, and college students could mock Carrie for ordering a “cosmopolitan” on Bacon Night at Wando’s? What if a 2004-era Nicolas Cage stole a sacred Capitol badger instead of the Declaration of Independence? What if the creators of “Ratatouille” recognized that the state of Wisconsin provides 25 percent of the cheese in the U.S. and didn’t get into all that pretentious French shit? Where’s the Wisconsin lovin’ that we all crave?

Midwesterners are too friendly to outright ask for this justice, and until we do, here are some films that feature Wisconsin in some context. You may or may not have heard of these films set in or shot in the Dairy State.

1. “The War at Home” (1979)

Students who attend the Mifflin Street Block Party now love to think of themselves as rebellious. What’s ironic is that 50 years ago, students at the University of Wisconsin were among the most radical in the country when it came to something much more significant: the Vietnam War. “The War at Home,” nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards, features footage from the protests ands interviews with people who were there. It covers events such as the Sterling Hall Bombing of 1970 and police-protester animosity.


2. “Love Actually” (2003)

This classic, ensemble-cast British rom-com playfully insults America in so many ways, including a fictional asshole American president of 2003. Another example is how homely Colin (Kris Marshall) buys a plane ticket to America because American girls are easier than British girls! Of course, he goes to Wisconsin, where he proves his ridiculous theory with three beautiful Wisconsinites who take him home solely because of his accent.

3. “The Last Kiss” (2006)

Zach Braff stars in this American remake of the 2001 Italian film, “L’ultimo bacio.” Michael (Braff) is a 30-year-old who should, for all intents and purposes, be satisfied with his life and his girlfriend, but isn’t. Eventually he begins an affair with a younger woman, Kim (Rachel Bilson). Reviews are mixed for “The Last Kiss.” But, more importantly, if you watch the trailer and ultimately the movie you will see glimpses of the Wisconsin State Capitol, a underrepresented cinematic beauty!

4. “The Prince and Me” (2004)

Perhaps the worst movie on this list. Its one redeeming quality is the setting. Paige and Eddie both attend UW. Julia Stiles plays a college freshman more interested in school than fun, and Luke Mably plays a prince from Denmark who just wants to go to an American party school. The IMDB description harps on the hokiness and predictability impeccably.

“At college Paige meets Eddie, whom she first dislikes but later accepts, likes and loves.”

Original stuff, film industry. Still, the preview features a drunk frat boy yelling “Wisconsin rules!” which is something that could charm any UW student, really.

5. “Mean Girls” (2004)

“Oh, I have to go to Madison with my parents. We have tickets for this thing,” high school Junior Caty Heron said in what is probably one of most quoted movies of all time. What is she referring to? Ladysmith Black Mambazo. A line like this would resonate with any UW student who has seen posters for the quirkiest variety of concerts plastered around campus.

6.”The Boy who Drank Too Much” (1980)

Scott Baio plays a high school hockey player, beloved by his peers, who is hiding a big secret from his teammates. He is an alcoholic, just like his father. This TV movie was shot partly in Madison, Wisconsin. Also, its title accurately describes many students’ experiences freshman year.

7. “Bridesmaids” (2011)

This Milwaukee-set crowd pleaser has inspired a large following of Kristin Wiig and Rebel Wilson fans. Sadly enough, Wisconsin doesn’t get a lot of love or attention in this movie and Chicago does. So do Las Vegas and Paris. But Milwaukee is more a generic Midwestern backdrop where Annie could have a breakdown about her crippling social life and career and could still drive to Chicago for the important stuff.

8. “The Giant Spider Invasion” (1975)

In the small town of Merill, Wisconsin, a monstrous spider comes to terrorize the unsuspecting townspeople. Apparently this low-budget movie did pretty decently in the theaters, no doubt poisoning the minds of people everywhere about the quality of life in Wisconsin.

9. “Back to School”(1986)

A rich business man decides to accompany his son to college at the fictional Grand Lakes University. Of course, UW is the real backdrop. The trailer itself is hilarious, as millionaire Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield) navigates his way through college and becomes that party-animal, popular student even though he’s “the world’s oldest living freshman.”

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