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Thread: Planning Movies (Merged with Planning Related Movies and with Cities and Movies)

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Planning related movies

    We've done the "planning songs" threads before. This weekend, though, I got thinking about movies where planning was a central theme.

    I used to recall seeing a movie on HBO about 15 years ago, about a group of bored kids living in a 1970s-era planned community, causing mayhem and eventually rioting. A central theme of the movie was the bleakness and social isolation of the moribund new town -- lots of earth tone houses and condos, lots of well-manicured parks, lots of "roads to nowhere" and projects abandoned halfway through construction. There were no "hangouts" and no place for kids to socialize outside of school, thus resulting in rampant drug use, vandalism, and similar activities.

    Fast-forward to 1998. I took a job with the City of Aurora, Colorado Planning Department. I never saw that movie again, but I swore that the movie was filmed there, after experiencing the built environment and landscape of Aurora. Although Aurora was booming, the bulk of the city presented a classic 1970s new town appearance -- winding streets, greenbelts, earth tone buildings, and a sense of "planned sterility." If you did a bit of digging, you found plenty of evidence of stalled projects from Denver's oil boom years -- half-built parking garages in office parks, roads to nowhere, buildings intended to be much taller than their completed height, and stacks of plans for never-built edge city-type office towers. Maps of Aurora's proposed street network extended 10 to 20 km from the newest subdivisions on the far east edge of town, and zoning maps included land use zoned in PUDs going out that far -- developments that were approved in the 1970s, but never built. I got the impression that Aurora just "stopped" in 1980, and woke from a long sleep 15 years later. I asked around about "some movie about kids rioting, that might have been filmed here," and nobody knew anything.

    This wekend, I decided to take another shot at it ... I went on line, Googled something like "movie teenagers vandalism Granada" (the name of the town in the movie, from what I remembered), and got some hits -- Over the Edge, which was billed as a late 1970s "Rebel Without a Cause," and considered to be something of a cult film now. I dug through the fan sites ... and found it was filmed in good 'ol Saudi Aurora. Damn, my memory was good. Interesting, too, considering that the Columbine incident took place outside of Denver.

    I'll put down Over the Edge as a film where urban planning is a central (but not primary) theme. Can anyone think of any others?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Well,

    not necessarilly "related" as much as commentary:

    Edward Scissorhands - all of the suburban houses are perky pastels, all the husbands take the garbage out at exactly the same time and then drive off to work in perfect unison.

    Poltergeist - another great comment on suburbia...

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Jen's avatar
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    What about The 'Burbs? it stars Tom Hanks who has weird and crazy neighbors. I think it's been running on TBS or WGN lately.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jmf's avatar
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    Wht about The Truman Show - the perfect subdivision??

  5. #5
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    This is going back

    Remember Neighbors with John Belushi and Dan Ackroid? Twisted Suburbia.

  6. #6
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    Quick Change

    A movie with Bill Murray, Randy Quaid, and Geena Davis... They rob a bank with Murray dressed up as a clown, and everything goes wrong.

    If I recall correctly, Murray is a NYC city planner who is fed up with his job...

    M
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  7. #7
         
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    A classic film noir, with a plot which revolves around water rights in California is "Chinatown" , starring none other than Jack Nicholson.

    How's that for cool?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian prudence's avatar
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    Mastiff...Quick Change is a classic. Good call. Tony Shaloub (Wings fame, also from Green Bay) is mint.

    Let's not overlook Fletch Lives starring Chevy Chase. Historical homes being purchased by developers. Dumping of toxic chemicals on said lands. And all in the name of an amusement park named Bibleland.

    The ultimate planning related line when Chase is standing in line for the ministries:

    Attendant (to Irwin M. Fletcher): Your full name?

    Fletch: Fletch M. Fletch

    Attendant: Address?

    Fletch: Seven


    Boy, they just don't write like that anymore....
    "Dear Prudence...won't you open up your eyes? "

  9. #9

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    "subUrbia"

    Check out "subUrbia". It's mainly about a bunch of kids who cause trouble because they have nothing to do. The scenes in the movie are great, like endless cul-de-sacs and my favorite, a lady watching a tv atop of another old tv, listening to a host on Home Shopping tell her to buy 3 or 4 junky lamps (suburbanites always have basements of garages with excess junk it them).

    Make sure you get the 1996 version. There are two movies of that name, so get the one spelled like I spelled it.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    As odd as it may sound, the movie "Darkman" with Liam Neeson starts with an evil developer trying to sway the City Council on a new development. And I remember Liam's wife/girlfriend/significant other in the movie was a city planner.

    I still think that Chinatown is one of the best development related movies... good call Andy!

  11. #11
    Not a movie but a classic episode of The Jetsons where both Cogswell Cogs and Spacely Space Sprockets could have used someone to review their site plan. Ends up that first Cogswell claims Spacely built his building a few feet over the property line, Spacely then flips out (in typical fashion - "Georrrrrrge! You're fireeeeeeeed!") at poor George, and then all is right as George notes to Spacely that Cogswell is actually encroaching on Spacely's property as the map was upside down.

    Episode should be part of any basic planning orientation and/or curriculum.

  12. #12
          Downtown's avatar
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    Recent episode of SpongeBob Squarepants:

    Patrick and Spongebob, with their usual antics, finally drive Squidward to move away. He moves to a little "planned community" where only people like Squidward can live. They all have the same house, they all do the exact same things with their day: play clarinet, go to interpretive dance class and shop for groceries at the upscale gourmet food store. Alas, Squidward eventually becomes bored out of his mind and moves back to his original Easter Island Statue House next to the big Pineapple. And we all learn a valuable lesson, yes, your next door neighbor may be a psychotically annoying dish sponge, but we should all celebrate the diversity of our neighbors. hee.

  13. #13
    Moving at my own pace....... Planderella's avatar
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    "Caddyshack" with Chevy Chase and that guy whose name just escaped me as I'm typing this (Jackie Mason?) dealt with an immigrant developer who wanted to build affordable housing but the snooty preppies tried to block the development in the name of historical preservation (among other things).

    "Singles," released in the height of Seattle grunge mania, featured a frustrated transportation planner who wanted to build some kind of super train.

    A countless number of "Simpsons" episodes (I know the thread is about movies) dealt with planning-related issues.

    I'll think of more as the day progresses..........

  14. #14
    The movie that Dan referred to in his original post is called Suburbia (not to be confused with sUburbia 1997). It is about a bunch of punk kids living in an abandoned house. It is an awesome cult classic...chock full of horrible acting.

    One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes also addresses urban planning. The Episode is called "The Van Buren Boys." George wants to give a scholarship to this kid who initially wants to be an architect (which is what George always wanted to be). Then he changes his mind and decides to be a City Planner saying "Why limit myself to just one building, when I can design a whole city?" George freaks out and withdraws the schlolarship..comedy ensues!
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Futurama

    The opening title sequence is an urban commentary in and of itself.

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    the setting for post-modern city living

    Strange Days, Once Were Warriors, and Blade Runner were movies I enjoyed

  17. #17

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    King of the Hill

    King of the Hill always has good episodes. Have you seen that one where Hank is on the Zoning Board? Dale Gribble tries to get a variance to erect a gun tower on the side of his house. Also, there's one where the Mege-lo Mart stomps out all of the local business.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Sex In the City

    Season Three, Miranda has a hot date with an Urban Planner. When he is 3 hours late and she beleives she is stood up, she tries to call. His mother answers and Miranda chews her out for raising a bad son. The Mother replies, "He died today."

  19. #19
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    jtfortin wrote:
    The movie that Dan referred to in his original post is called Suburbia (not to be confused with sUburbia 1997). It is about a bunch of punk kids living in an abandoned house. It is an awesome cult classic...chock full of horrible acting.
    I was thinking of Over the Edge.

    One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes also addresses urban planning. The Episode is called "The Van Buren Boys."
    You mean this episode?



    bturk wrote:
    Season Three, Miranda has a hot date with an Urban Planner.
    Seriously? I thought the Sex in the City girls only dated investment bankers, fund managers, traders, and the like.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
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    uh, I think he died

    Okay, the Planner guy, as far as I know was the guy who ended up standing Miranda up when he died at the gym. But, yes, we're becoming main stream, it's almost scary.
    I'm amazed Pinky and the Brain never did a planning skit since they were all about taking over the world.
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Re: uh, I think he died

    TexasPlanner wrote:
    I'm amazed Pinky and the Brain never did a planning skit since they were all about taking over the world.
    "Okay Brain, but this time you put the dress on the gorilla"

  22. #22
          Downtown's avatar
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    Not that I'm admitting to watching, but on America's Funniest Home Videos (ok - I was home this weekend and my dad is a big fan) they had a kid riding his bike up a ramp onto a dumpster and then he fell off the side. The overvoice was "A bad case of Urban Planning - no off ramp". Very stupid commentary, but quick thrill of recognition. hee.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Oh G*d!

    KMateja wrote:
    ...they had a kid riding his bike up a ramp onto a dumpster and then he fell off the side. The overvoice was "A bad case of Urban Planning - no off ramp".
    These shows need to ridicule the scum of the gene pool more, instead of dangling a $10,000 reward in front of their face. What kind of moron tapes his kid riding a bike up a plank onto a dumpster?

    Grrrr. OK bad afternoon, but thanks for the rant...

  24. #24
          Downtown's avatar
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    Ok, and not only do they tape their kids doing dumb ass things, but you just want to yell at the parents to put their camera down, because you're pretty sure their child might need medical attention.

  25. #25
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    KMateja wrote:
    Ok, and not only do they tape their kids doing dumb ass things, but you just want to yell at the parents to put their camera down, because you're pretty sure their child might need medical attention.
    But the kid always gets a payback... How many times have we seen different "whiffle bat in the crotch" clips? Hey Mr, Darwin Canidate! Stay out of the batter's box!
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