10 Best Movies Based in New Jersey

Photo Courtesy: Peter Miller

Located in-between some of the American powerhouses like New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, New Jersey has often been slandered as the “armpit of America”. Despite its disrepute, there is much to love about the Garden State. On that note, here are the top ten movies based in New Jersey.

Top 10 Movies Set in New Jersey

  1. Pootie Tang (2001) – Although never officially referenced, Pootie Tang is loosely based around the Garden State. Shot explicitly in the state, the makers make their Jersey inspiration explicit in a clear goof where an NJ Turnpike is clearly visible on a storefront window that is supposedly set “in the countryside”.
  2. Cop Land (1997) – One of Sylvester Stallone’s lesser-known films, Cop Land remains memorable for its classy depiction of the notorious Jersey streets. The plot narrates the story of crime, corruption, and one man’s effort to follow his moral compass. And this time too the makers tried not to mention Jersey as the source of their inspiration.
  3. Alice, Sweet Alice (1976) – The movie revolves around a 12-year-old girl who is the prime suspect in her sister’s murder. Filmed exclusively in New Jersey, the movie is a period-correct depiction of the Garden State, which used to be the ideal locale for twisted psycho tales.
  4. Ransom (1996) – Much of the movie was filmed in New York and New Jersey. Starring Mel Gibson in the lead, some crucial scenes were exclusively shot at Haledon quarry.
  5. Happiness (1998) – While the 1995 film Welcome to the Dollhouse encapsulated New Jersey in a creepy undertone, the follow-up is even more sadistic. Most notable for the storyline, the movie is far from what the title would like the audience to believe.
  6. War of the Worlds (2005) – While the story is centered around Brooklyn, much of Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi action sequences were filmed in New Jersey. Starring Tom Cruise, the initial alien encounter was just one of the many scenes to be filmed in NJ.
  7. The Wrestler (2008) – Starring Mickey Rourke in the lead role, the plot runs down the local wrestling scene in Jersey, complete with the strip club encounters, grocery store delis, and the countless thrift stores.
  8. The Toxic Avenger (1984) – Although the plot is based on absurdity, most of the filming was done in New Jersey. The Toxic Avenger remains one of Lloyd Kaufman’s finest camp classics, with a high dose of complimentary nudity and ridiculously unnecessary violence.
  9. Atlantic City (1980) – On the opposite end of the spectrum, the movie romanticizes the seaside town while narrating the story of a young woman fleeing from her husband, an Atlantic City old-timer with ties to the mob.
  10. Clerks (1994) – While Kevin Smith’s films might have nosedived in recent years, this classic low-budget film perfectly captures the laid-back attitude of the mid-90s. The plot narrates the story of two departmental store employees and their life experiences.

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