suburban movie recommendations
May 18, 2016 10:58 AM   Subscribe

I've had a longstanding quasi-intellectual interest in suburbia. What's new is that I have a sudden interest in watching some movies, and I'm looking for some movies about suburbia. More specific criteria inside.

I've recently watched and/or read something about Dazed and Confused and the Sandlot, and I'm looking for movies like those. My criteria:

-Produced fairly recently (1990s to present).
-But set in the recent past (1950s to 1970s).
-Set in generic American suburbia. I don't care if it's set in a specific place (Dazed and Confused is set in Texas, for example), but the setting should be able to be changed without affecting the rest of the movie. Put another way, the geography should not be a star of the film.
-Shot on location.
-Featuring a soundtrack of period-appropriate popular music.

I would also prefer if it's not set in Chicago. I went through a Chicago film phase a few months ago, and I'm a little burnt out on that.

Off the top of my head, the Virgin Suicides meets my criteria. Dirty Dancing would, except it's set in a rural location instead of a suburban. Pulp Fiction would, but it's set in the present, not the time period I'm looking for. Goodfellas would, but it's more urban than I'd like, and it's pretty unique to NYC.

Beyond that, I'm open to anything. Actual quality is not important - I'm interested in mindless fluff as much as epic cinematic greatness. Thanks for your help.
posted by kevinbelt to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
posted by China Grover at 11:04 AM on May 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

American Beauty and Revolutionary Road spring immediately to mind. (Both directed by Sam Mendes.)
posted by dortmunder at 11:05 AM on May 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

It Follows. And, of course, The 'Burbs.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:07 AM on May 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

Suburban Gothic is another one. Not great by any stretch of the imagination, but it does have Punk Rock Girl on the soundtrack and a cameo by John Waters.
posted by dortmunder at 11:12 AM on May 18, 2016

Grosse Point Blank
Peggy Sue Got Married
Edward Scissor Hands
Serial Mom
Stepford Wives (not quite recent enough maybe)
Sex Lies and Video Tape
Valley Girl (maybe outside your time period)
The Burbs
(also more 80s than 70s)
posted by brookeb at 11:16 AM on May 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

A Serious Man
posted by veery at 11:17 AM on May 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

I came to suggest Grosse Pointe Blank, but here's a better list:
posted by nkknkk at 11:17 AM on May 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

The Ice Storm, made in 1997, set in suburban Connecticut in the 1970s.

Now and Then, made in 1995, set in Midwestern suburbs in 1970 (I've seen this movie hundreds of times and don't know exactly where offhand, so I'm going to assume it's generic enough for you).
posted by telegraph at 11:18 AM on May 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

I guess Clerks (New Jersey), and Slacker (Austin TX) both fit the bill: suburban counter-culture, with period-appropriate (90s) soundtracks.
posted by Joeruckus at 11:48 AM on May 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Flipped, made 2010, set in the 1960's, filmed in various places in Michigan, including Ann Arbor.
posted by gudrun at 11:56 AM on May 18, 2016

Far from Heaven (2002), set in 1950s suburban Connecticut.
posted by drlith at 12:28 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fandango, set in the 70s, released in 1985.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:30 PM on May 18, 2016

Corrina, Corrina

I thought of My Girl too, but I think it's more rural than suburban. But I haven't seen it in about 25 years, so I could be remembering it wrong!
posted by areaperson at 12:32 PM on May 18, 2016

Not a film, but Freaks and Geeks is so close to what you're looking for I have to add it.
posted by General Malaise at 1:43 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Donnie Darko was made in 2001 but (I assume based on the music) that it's set in the 80s.
posted by matildaben at 2:16 PM on May 18, 2016

Back to the Future
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 4:05 PM on May 18, 2016

Disturbing with Shia labeouf
posted by CosmicSeeker42 at 4:48 PM on May 18, 2016

SubUrbia was made in 1996, but it has a certain timeless quality due to it being based on the experiences of its writer growing up in Massachusetts.
posted by Fukiyama at 4:53 PM on May 18, 2016

Not a fiction film, sort of an experimental documentary Cul de Sac: A Suburban War Story is worth a look.

It might be tricky to find but Radiant City is fun - it is a sneaky & funny pseudo doc about suburbia.

Fukiyama's suggestion reminds me of another film with the same title... I know this one is from the 80's but I think it is good - Penelope Spheeris' Suburbia.
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:36 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Violates a couple of your criteria, but you might consider "Ordinary People."
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 6:50 PM on May 18, 2016

Cleveland, but... American Splendor? Also, if you have the stomach, Solondz' Welcome to the Dollhouse & Happiness.
posted by athirstforsalt at 4:18 AM on May 19, 2016

Missed the edit window-- the Solondz ones don't meet some criteria but... still. "Ring Dings, Pop Tarts, whatever! I can make Jell-O. " Dawn Wiener is my suburban everything.
posted by athirstforsalt at 4:27 AM on May 19, 2016

SubUrbia was made in 1996

Even thought the OP wants to avoid the 1980s, I'm compelled to recommend the real, true Suburbia by Penelope Spheris from 1984 (which inspired the song by the Pet Shop Boys).
posted by Rash at 11:45 AM on May 19, 2016

Virgin Suicides. I think the soundtrack is period-appropriate?
posted by shesbenevolent at 12:20 PM on May 19, 2016

Oh doh, I didn't read your question properly. I have end of the week at work brain.
posted by shesbenevolent at 12:21 PM on May 19, 2016

Would The Truman Show qualify?
Boogie Nights
posted by threesquare at 4:05 PM on May 19, 2016

posted by areaperson at 7:55 AM on May 20, 2016

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