Movies set primarily in DC, but NOT primarily about politics/government
December 9, 2017 10:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm putting together a list of films set primarily in Washington, DC but that are *not* primarily focused on politics or the federal government. So, no to All the President's Men, but yes to The Exorcist and Broadcast News.

Please do not include movies that have only a couple of minutes of screen time set in DC (Election, for example).

Movies about local politics (a.k.a. DC mayor/council) would be okay.
posted by duffell to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Slam is a very DC movie that is as far from Capitol Hill as you can get. It also stars Kima from The Wire.
posted by CatastropheWaitress at 11:09 AM on December 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

St. Elmo's Fire is about a bunch of recent Georgetown grads and is set in '80s D.C. I haven't seen it since the '80s, but I assume it's not good. D.C. Cab is another '80s one that is probably terrible. (Hey, they have the same director. Weird.)
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:18 AM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

D.C. Cab (oh wait, I just got beat to that).
The Man with One Red Shoe (well, that one's Fed-adjacent as the plot hinges on a power play at the CIA).
True Lies is about government agents, but not really about government.
No Way Out, if it's not too politics-y.
Is Being There too political? It's a satire of political people.

I feel like I'm forgetting a few.
posted by fedward at 11:27 AM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Heartburn (1986) with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson. Nora Ephron wrote the screenplay. They buy and renovate a place in Georgetown, interpersonal stuff ensues. Not great, not terrible.
posted by nightrecordings at 11:55 AM on December 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Friday Foster does involve some politicians but not in the usual way most DC-based movies do (it's not set entirely in DC, but a lot of it does take place there, and there are some amazing scenes of '70s DC).
posted by darksong at 12:00 PM on December 9, 2017

In the Line of Fire is a good one.
posted by nkknkk at 12:12 PM on December 9, 2017

Oh, here, although I hate to ruin the fun of trying to remember: Films Set in DC.
posted by nkknkk at 12:13 PM on December 9, 2017

The Day the Earth Stood Still (original 1951 version) is a Science Fiction classic in which a humanoid alien visitor named Klaatu comes to Earth, accompanied by a powerful eight-foot tall robot, Gort, to deliver an important message that will affect the entire human race.

"Klaatu barada nictu"
posted by qurlyjoe at 12:14 PM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Absolute Power is not primarily about the federal government.
posted by Melismata at 12:21 PM on December 9, 2017

As a rule, think "Could it still make sense to set this movie in Washington, DC if the nation's capital were Omaha, Nebraska?"

For Absolute Power, that's a no; for Slam, yes.
posted by duffell at 12:25 PM on December 9, 2017

Wedding Crashers
posted by oiseau at 2:58 PM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

"Minority Report"
posted by Rash at 4:22 PM on December 9, 2017

Good To Go
posted by Rash at 4:27 PM on December 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Heavy Metal Parking Lot was filmed in the Maryland suburbs (Landover, iirc). And it's the best movie ever made.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:54 PM on December 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

I was coming here to say St Elmo's Fire and will instead just confirm for ArbitraryAndCapricious that it is truly not good.
posted by Smearcase at 4:58 PM on December 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Logan's Run, a 1976 film about a future society living in a dome, and in which everyone is executed within a day of turning 30, is eventually revealed to be happening in the near vicinity of DC. However, it's far from being a familiar United States, so calling it "set in DC" is a stretch.

Die Hard 2 is set primarily at Dulles International Airport.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:22 PM on December 9, 2017

Damn Yankees is a musical (1955) which became a movie in 1958, set in DC among the baseball team, the Washington Senators. If you haven't seen it, it's a retelling of the Faust legend, where a diehard Senators fan sells his soul to the devil to help his team beat the dominant Yankees.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:28 PM on December 9, 2017

No Way Out with Kevin Costner. Bonus feature: It has a long, aerial sweeping shot of what is now the Pentagon City Mall shopping complex, but before they built the mall! Just blank land! Can't remember if it's at the very beginning or the very end, but it's fun to see.
posted by mccxxiii at 7:47 PM on December 9, 2017

Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train is a murder plot which does involve, peripherally, a US Senator, but he's the father of one main character's mistress, and it does not involve politics of government, as far as I know.

Mike Nichols made 1986's Heartburn, which I haven't seen; looks like a dramedy with Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, based on a Nora Ephron-penned book and screenplay. I haven't seen it, but it's set in DC, and he's a political writer.

There are two movies, a straight-to-video film and a TV movie based on the October 2002 killings by the Beltway Sniper.

Shattered Glass was pretty good-- it is set in and around the DC Offices of The New Republic magazine, which employed Stephen Glass, a journalist who was revealed as a fabulist in the mid-1990s by an upstart tech journalist at Forbes' brand-spankin'-new online division. Good showing by Hayden Christensen as Glass, while his badly-written, badly-directed lead in the contemporary Star Wars movies were soiling his reputation.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:03 PM on December 9, 2017

Wedding Crashers is set in DC, weirdly enough. Politics plays a small role but it's not central (the father of the two sisters/love interests is the Treasury Secretary, but he could just as easily have been a corporate CEO or some other kind of bigwig).

Oh darnit, looks like I was beaten to it!
posted by lunasol at 11:52 PM on December 9, 2017

The Meteor Man
posted by darksong at 3:22 PM on December 11, 2017

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