Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company
If you've seen MTV's new reality series Jersey Shore, then you're already well-acquainted with one town in New Jersey: Seaside Heights, where big-haired, hard-partying, loud-mouthed teens flock for summer vacation. But there's a whole lot more to New Jersey than hair gel and hot tubs--it's the most densely populated state in the U.S., and has been the filming location for hundreds of motion pictures. Here are five movies that epitomize the charms of the Garden State:
1. Clerks (1994)
Director Kevin Smith's career is a tribute to his home state, and this is the film that started it all. Shot in the hamlet of Leonardo, this low-budget comedy (pictured above) captures the peculiar charm of a convenience store in a working-class Jersey town. (And if you've ever been, you know it wouldn't be Jersey without Wawa and 7-11.)
2. Garden State (2004)
Scrubs star Zach Braff is a native of South Orange and he returned to his roots to make this acclaimed indie pic, in which he starred opposite Natalie Portman. The quirky love story (written and directed by Braff, and set to a fabulous soundtrack) captured the unique beauty to be found in and around cookie-cutter suburbs.
3. The Station Agent (2003)
New Jersey may be densely populated, but there are plenty of places to get away from it all, which is what Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson, and Bobby Canavale attempt in The Station Agent. It's hard to believe that Newfoundland--the gorgeous rural town where this indie drama takes place--is just an hour north of heavily industrial Newark. But that's New Jersey for you.
4. The Wedding Singer (1998)
The big-haired, tough-talking culture of Jersey Shore had its heyday in the '80s, and there's no better re-creation of that era than this Adam Sandler valentine, co-starring Drew Barrymore. Set in Ridgefield, it's a sweet slice of suburban life, full of winks about how Jersey's young Italian-Americans lived and loved, back when MTV only played videos.
5. Be Kind, Rewind (2008)
Set in the working-class town of Passaic, this Mos Def-Jack Black film tells the tale of two hapless video clerks who save a dying business by filming their own quickie homages to hit movies. As towns like Hoboken, Jersey City, and Newark strive to revitalize their civic identities, Be Kind, Rewind is a hopeful metaphor for how art and community can restore New Jersey to its glory days.
Plus: Holy Tanning! It's the Cast of MTV's Jersey Shore
Chime in: What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of New Jersey?