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12 Extraordinary Movies Set In Minnesota That Will Inspire You To Visit!

12 Extraordinary Movies Set In Minnesota That Will Inspire You To Visit!

From the serene lakes to bustling cities, Minnesota’s diverse landscapes have been the setting for a variety of Movies Set in Minnesota, capturing the state’s unique charm and beauty.

Nestled in the Midwest, Minnesota offers filmmakers picturesque natural settings, vibrant urban areas, and a rich cultural heritage, making it an attractive location for diverse cinematic narratives. This article explores the array of films that have showcased the distinct charm of Minnesota, from its breathtaking wilderness to its dynamic communities.

As the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota’s shimmering waters and lush greenery have provided directors with a canvas upon which to paint their stories. With its four distinct seasons, the state’s ever-changing landscapes offer a visual feast, enticing filmmakers to weave tales amidst its scenic wonders.

Additionally, the state’s captivating cities, such as Minneapolis and St. Paul, have become urban playgrounds for filmmakers, serving as vibrant backdrops for narratives that capture the essence of modern life.

Movies Set In Minnesota

Moreover, Minnesota’s blend of natural and urban environments mirrors the larger narrative of movies set in the United States of America, where diverse settings form the backdrop for stories that touch the heart and stir the soul. The state’s storied history and cultural tapestry resonate deeply in these cinematic tales, inviting viewers to explore themes of community, resilience, and the pursuit of the American Dream.

Minnesota, with its majestic landscapes, some of which are akin to the splendor of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the USA, offers a unique perspective on the nation’s character and identity. For those inspired by these cinematic portrayals, the best USA tours provide an opportunity to traverse the state and experience its beauty firsthand. Whether walking through the bustling streets of Minneapolis, taking in the tranquility of its lakes, or exploring the cultural richness of its small towns, these tours offer a deeper connection to the locations and stories celebrated in Minnesota’s filmography.

This journey through Minnesota’s cinematic landscape is not just an exploration of physical spaces, but an emotive voyage into the heart of American life, as depicted through the lens of filmmakers who have found inspiration in this captivating state.

Wondering where to watch? It depends on where you live in the world and which streaming services you have. We link to the streaming service we watch on in each case - be it Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, or elsewhere.

You can get one month free of Amazon Prime (or a 6-month trial for students) of Amazon Prime and also get immediate access to FREE Two Day shipping, Amazon Video, and Music. While you won't be charged for your free trial, you'll be upgraded to a paid membership plan automatically at the end of the trial period - though if you have already binged all these, you could just cancel before the trial ends.

Apple TV+ also has a one-week trial, and Hulu has a one-month trial (which can be bundled with Disney!). Another option might be using a VPN to access Netflix titles locked to other regions. Netflix is now available in more than 190 countries worldwide and each country has a different library and availability. US Netflix is (understandably) one of the best. 

While we wish everything could just be in one place - for now, it seems these are the best streaming platforms to watch on.

Movies Set In Minnesota
Movies Set In Minnesota
Movies Set In Minnesota

Purple Rain (1984)

Purple Rain is a musical drama film directed by Albert Magnoli. Magnoli, an American filmmaker, began his career in the industry as a director and writer. While he has worked on various projects throughout his career, Purple Rain remains his most notable and acclaimed work.

The film is set in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a city known for its vibrant music scene and artistic culture. This Midwestern city serves as the backdrop for the story, providing a fitting atmosphere for the protagonist’s journey. The film delves into the life of The Kid, portrayed by the legendary musician Prince, who struggles to find his identity as an artist and navigate the challenges of his personal life.

Purple Rain revolves around The Kid’s struggle to establish himself as a musician while dealing with an abusive home life and a tumultuous relationship with his bandmates. The film beautifully weaves together themes of love, music, redemption, and personal growth.

Magnoli skillfully captures the essence of Minneapolis, presenting it as a city pulsating with creativity and musical energy. Through stunning visuals and dynamic performances, the film showcases iconic music venues and highlights the importance of music in the lives of its characters. The soundtrack, featuring Prince’s groundbreaking music, adds an electrifying layer to the storytelling, making it an unforgettable cinematic experience.

Purple Rain not only offers a captivating story but also provides a window into Prince’s extraordinary talent. It remains a timeless classic that continues to inspire and entertain, making it a must-watch for anyone seeking a cinematic masterpiece.

A Serious Man (2009)

A Serious Man is a dark comedy-drama film directed by the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan. Known for their distinctive storytelling and unique cinematic style, the Coen brothers have established themselves as prominent figures in the world of filmmaking. Throughout their career, they have received critical acclaim for films such as Fargo, No Country for Old Men, and The Big Lebowski.

Set in 1967 in a Jewish community in suburban Minnesota, A Serious Man follows the life of Larry Gopnik, played by Michael Stuhlbarg. Larry is a physics professor whose seemingly ordinary existence is turned upside down when he faces a series of inexplicable and unfortunate events. As he grapples with a failing marriage, financial troubles, and a troubled brother, Larry embarks on a quest for meaning and understanding.

The film captures the essence of its setting, a tight-knit Jewish community in a small Minnesota town, with meticulous attention to detail. The Coen brothers paint a vivid portrait of the time and place, infusing the narrative with cultural references, Yiddish phrases, and religious themes. Through the film’s atmospheric cinematography and subtle humor, they skillfully convey the complexities and idiosyncrasies of the community.

A Serious Man is great for those seeking a film that challenges and engages the intellect. With its sharp wit, captivating storyline, and exceptional performances, it provides a rich and rewarding viewing experience. The film’s ability to delve into profound themes while maintaining an entertaining narrative makes it a must-watch for cinema enthusiasts. Prepare to be captivated by the Coen brothers’ signature blend of dark comedy and profound introspection.

Jingle All the Way (1996)

Jingle All the Way, directed by Brian Levant, is a 1996 holiday comedy film that has become a beloved classic for many families. Levant, known for his knack for directing family-oriented films, has a long and successful career in the film industry. 

Set in the bustling city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jingle All the Way takes us on a hilarious journey during the Christmas season. The story revolves around a workaholic father named Howard Langston, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is determined to redeem himself in the eyes of his young son Jamie, portrayed by Jake Lloyd. Jamie’s one wish for Christmas is the elusive Turbo Man action figure, the hottest toy of the season. However, as Howard soon discovers, acquiring the sought-after toy proves to be no easy feat.

The film cleverly captures the chaos of the holiday shopping frenzy, depicting the snow-covered streets and busy malls of Minnesota in a comical and exaggerated manner. From a wild chase through a toy store to Howard’s desperate attempts to outwit other parents, the film highlights the absurdity and competitiveness that can accompany the holiday season.

With its charismatic cast, humorous antics, and endearing storyline, Jingle All the Way has stood the test of time and continues to bring laughter to viewers of all ages. So, gather your loved ones, cozy up with some hot cocoa, and embark on a festive adventure that will leave you with a smile on your face and a warm feeling in your heart.

Juno (2007)

Juno is a critically acclaimed film directed by Jason Reitman, known for his distinctive style and ability to explore complex themes with a touch of humor. Reitman, the son of renowned director Ivan Reitman, has established himself as a talented filmmaker through his unique storytelling techniques and attention to character development.

The film follows the story of Juno MacGuff, played brilliantly by Ellen Page, a whip-smart teenager facing an unexpected pregnancy. Juno decides to give the baby up for adoption and begins a journey to find the perfect couple to raise her child. Set in the fictional town of Bleeker, Minnesota, the film captures the small-town charm and idiosyncrasies, creating a vibrant backdrop for Juno’s emotional journey.

As Juno navigates the challenges of her situation, the film delves into themes of love, responsibility, and personal growth. The script, penned by Diablo Cody, strikes a delicate balance between wit and vulnerability, infusing the narrative with a refreshing honesty and authentic teenage voice.

Juno stands out as a heartfelt and thought-provoking film that resonates with viewers on multiple levels. Its engaging story, memorable characters, and sincere performances make it a must-watch for cinema enthusiasts. The film’s ability to address challenging topics with a blend of humor and sensitivity is a testament to its artistic brilliance. Whether you’re a fan of coming-of-age stories, appreciate strong character development, or simply enjoy a well-crafted film, Juno is an experience that should not be missed.

Sweet Land (2005)

Sweet Land is a heartfelt film directed by Ali Selim, an accomplished filmmaker known for his exceptional ability to capture the essence of human relationships on the silver screen. Selim, of Lebanese heritage, began his career as a cinematographer before venturing into directing. His unique perspective and keen eye for detail have earned him critical acclaim and a loyal following.

Set in the early 1920s, Sweet Land takes place in rural Minnesota, specifically in the fictitious town of Sweetwater. The film centers around the story of Inge Altenberg (Elizabeth Reaser), a young German woman who arrives in America to marry Olaf Torvik (Tim Guinee), a Norwegian immigrant farmer.

However, their union faces significant opposition from the community due to Inge’s nationality and language barrier. The film beautifully portrays the challenges they encounter, the bonds they forge, and the power of love and resilience.

One of the film’s standout features is its breathtaking depiction of the Minnesota landscape. The vast fields, rolling hills, and idyllic countryside serve as a character in their own right, reflecting the characters’ connection to the land and their struggle to preserve their way of life. Selim masterfully captures the beauty and tranquility of the setting, creating a visual feast for the audience.

Through its captivating storytelling, Sweet Land invites viewers to reflect on the enduring human spirit and the power of embracing diversity. It is a film that celebrates the triumph of love over adversity and reminds us of the importance of compassion and understanding in a world marked by division. So, allow yourself to be transported to the enchanting world of Sweet Land and discover the magic that lies within its frames.

Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)

Drop Dead Gorgeous, directed by Michael Patrick Jann, is a dark comedy film that captivated audiences when it was released in 1999. Jann, known for his work in television, brought his unique vision to the big screen and delivered a memorable film that continues to entertain viewers to this day.

Set in the fictional town of Mount Rose, Minnesota, Drop Dead Gorgeous satirically explores the world of beauty pageants and the lengths some individuals are willing to go to win the coveted crown. The story follows Amber Atkins, played by Kirsten Dunst, a determined and talented teenager who dreams of escaping her small-town life by becoming the next pageant queen.

As the film unfolds, we are introduced to a colorful cast of characters, including Amber’s ambitious yet overbearing mother, her best friend and fellow pageant contestant, and the ruthless reigning pageant queen. Through a series of hilarious and often outrageous events, the dark underbelly of the pageant world is exposed, revealing the desperate measures people will take to secure victory.

Drop Dead Gorgeous is a must-watch for those seeking a hilarious and biting social commentary. The film brilliantly combines sharp wit with memorable performances from its talented cast, including Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, and Kirstie Alley. As the story unfolds, it offers a scathing critique of the beauty pageant culture, while also delivering moments of genuine heart and unexpected twists.

A Simple Plan (1998)

Director Sam Raimi, known for his expertise in the horror genre, took a dramatic turn in 1998 with the critically acclaimed film A Simple Plan. Raimi’s career had been largely defined by his work on the cult classic Evil Dead trilogy, but A Simple Plan showcased his versatility and mastery as a filmmaker.

Set in the snowy landscape of northern Minnesota, the film revolves around three ordinary individuals who stumble upon a life-changing opportunity.

Hank Mitchell (played by Bill Paxton), his brother Jacob (played by Billy Bob Thornton), and their friend Lou (played by Brent Briscoe) discover a crashed plane in the woods, containing a bag filled with four million dollars. Tempted by the possibility of a better life, they decide to keep the money. However, their seemingly foolproof plan quickly unravels as greed, suspicion, and moral dilemmas consume them.

Raimi masterfully captures the desolate and isolated nature of the film’s setting, set in the fictional town of Scottsville, Minnesota. The barren landscapes and harsh winter weather become symbolic of the characters’ deteriorating morality and the suffocating consequences of their actions.

A Simple Plan is a gripping tale that delves into the depths of human nature. Raimi expertly crafts a narrative that explores themes of greed, trust, and the lengths people will go to preserve what they believe is rightfully theirs. The performances by the talented cast are outstanding, particularly Thornton’s portrayal of the mentally challenged Jacob, which earned him an Academy Award nomination.

Mallrats (1995)

Mallrats is a film directed by Kevin Smith, known for his distinct comedic style and exploration of pop culture. Smith’s career began with the indie hit Clerks in 1994, which showcased his sharp dialogue and witty humor. Following the success of Clerks, Smith continued his unique storytelling approach in Mallrats.

The film revolves around two best friends, T.S. Quint and Brodie Bruce, who are both dealing with relationship troubles. When their girlfriends break up with them on the same day, the two distraught protagonists decide to seek solace at the local shopping mall in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. As they navigate the mall, they encounter a diverse group of characters, including Jay and Silent Bob, recurring characters in Smith’s View Askewniverse.

Set in Eden Prairie, a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, the film captures the essence of a small-town mall culture in the mid-1990s. The mall becomes a central hub where characters converge, each with their unique quirks and dilemmas. Smith skillfully portrays the monotony of suburban life and its clash with youthful rebellion, providing a humorous commentary on societal norms and expectations.

Mallrats is a delightful comedy that showcases Kevin Smith’s distinctive style and humor. Set in the heart of Minnesota, it captures the idiosyncrasies of suburban life while delivering a lighthearted and entertaining experience. If you appreciate witty dialogue, memorable characters, and a generous dose of ’90s nostalgia, Mallrats is a film you shouldn’t miss. Sit back, relax, and let Kevin Smith take you on a hilarious journey through the realm of shopping mall antics and misadventures.

North Country (2005)

North Country is a compelling drama directed by Niki Caro, a New Zealand filmmaker known for her powerful storytelling and strong female characters. Caro has garnered critical acclaim for her previous works, such as Whale Rider (2002) and The Zookeeper’s Wife (2017), showcasing her ability to delve into complex social issues with sensitivity.

Set in Northern Minnesota, North Country tells the harrowing story of Josey Aimes, played by Charlize Theron, a young single mother who joins a local mining company’s workforce in search of a better life for herself and her children. However, she soon discovers that the male-dominated workplace is rife with sexism, harassment, and discrimination.

The film skillfully captures the desolate beauty of the Iron Range in Minnesota, highlighting its significance as a symbol of resilience and determination. Caro masterfully juxtaposes the natural beauty of the surroundings with the dark realities of the characters’ lives, creating a poignant and immersive experience for the audience.

North Country is a thought-provoking film that tackles important themes such as gender inequality and the fight for justice. It serves as a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggle for equal rights and the courage it takes to challenge societal norms. Theron delivers a remarkable performance, capturing the strength and vulnerability of her character with exceptional nuance.

The Good Son (1993)

The Good Son is a gripping psychological thriller directed by Joseph Ruben. Ruben, known for his skill in building tension and suspense, has helmed several notable films throughout his career. Prior to The Good Son, he directed The Stepfather (1987) and Sleeping with the Enemy (1991), both of which showcased his ability to create atmospheric and intense narratives.

Set in Minnesota, the film revolves around the dark and disturbed relationship between two young boys, Mark Evans (Elijah Wood) and his cousin Henry Evans (Macaulay Culkin). After Mark’s mother dies, he goes to stay with his aunt and uncle in their picturesque suburban home. It is there that he becomes increasingly suspicious of his cousin Henry’s seemingly innocent demeanor. Mark gradually discovers that Henry is, in fact, a manipulative and sadistic child with a penchant for deadly mischief.

The Good Son stands out as a thought-provoking exploration of the dark side of human nature, particularly in children. The stellar performances from Wood and Culkin add depth and authenticity to their characters, making the film even more compelling. The movie delves into themes of morality, family, and the blurred boundaries between good and evil.

Factotum (2005)

Directed by Norwegian filmmaker Bent Hamer, Factotum is a cinematic gem that beautifully captures the essence of Charles Bukowski’s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. Hamer, known for his distinct storytelling style and dark humor, has established himself as a prominent figure in the world of independent cinema. With films like Kitchen Stories (2003) and O’Horten (2007) under his belt, Hamer has garnered critical acclaim for his unique approach to storytelling.

Set in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Factotum follows the life of Henry Chinaski, portrayed brilliantly by Matt Dillon. Henry is an aimless writer who drifts from one job to another, perpetually in search of inspiration and meaning. The film delves deep into the struggles of the working class, painting a stark and unapologetic portrait of a man who constantly battles against societal norms and personal demons.

Factotum is a must-watch for cinephiles who appreciate thought-provoking narratives and raw performances. Hamer’s direction, combined with Dillon’s magnetic portrayal of Henry Chinaski, creates an unforgettable cinematic experience. The film offers a poignant exploration of the human condition, delving into themes of love, art, and the inherent struggles of pursuing one’s passions.

A Prairie Home Companion (2006)

A Prairie Home Companion is a 2006 film directed by Robert Altman, a masterful filmmaker known for his distinct style and ensemble casts. Altman, who passed away in 2006, left an indelible mark on the cinematic landscape, with a career spanning over five decades. He was revered for his ability to craft intricate narratives and explore the complexities of human relationships.

The film’s plot revolves around the fictional final broadcast of a long-running radio variety show called A Prairie Home Companion. Set in St. Paul, Minnesota, the film captures the essence of the Midwest through its endearing characters and folk music performances. Altman masterfully weaves together the lives of the show’s cast and crew, presenting a bittersweet exploration of mortality, nostalgia, and the passage of time.

Minnesota, particularly St. Paul, serves as more than just a backdrop in the film; it becomes a character in itself. Altman skillfully captures the quaint charm and laid-back atmosphere of the Midwest, depicting a place where time seems to slow down and where people find solace in music and storytelling. The film embraces the region’s cultural heritage, showcasing the unique blend of humor, warmth, and melancholy that permeates Midwestern life.

Whether you are a fan of Altman’s work or simply appreciate well-crafted storytelling, A Prairie Home Companion offers a delightful and introspective journey into the heart and soul of the Midwest. Altman’s deft direction, coupled with the stellar performances from an ensemble cast, creates a captivating and heartfelt cinematic experience.