The List: Best of Detroit in movies and TV

By Columbus Alive
From the August 8, 2013 edition

AMC’s new crime drama “Low Winter Sun” is the latest in a long line of movies and television shows set in Detroit. Here’s a rundown of the best that take place in Motown, aka The Motor City, aka Detroit Rock City, aka Hockeytown, aka The D, etc.

10. “Beverly Hills Cop”

“Beverly Hills Cop” and Eddie Murphy are great, but since it only takes place in Detroit for the first act it falls low on this list. Still, the opening credits and car chase set in Detroit capture the city’s attitude — not to mention feature the soundtrack’s best songs, “The Heat is On,” “Neutron Dance” and theme song “Axel F.” 

9. “Hung”

This HBO dramedy didn’t have the best premise — dude with big schlong becomes a gigolo when he falls on hard times — but over three seasons it displayed many of Detroit’s best landmarks and carried an interesting subtext about the city’s economy. 

8. “The Crow”

Yeah, maybe Devil’s Night — rampant arson and crime the night before Halloween — isn’t exactly something Detroit is proud of, but “The Crow” is a cool movie with a great soundtrack.

7. “The Upside of Anger”

This lesser-seen film starring Kevin Costner as a retired Detroit Tiger and Joan Allen as a bitter woman abandoned by her husband is smart, wickedly funny and poignant. Check it out. 

6. “Detroit Rock City”

This is one of the great road trip comedies out there. Four unruly teenagers and die-hard KISS fans make their way to Detroit for the concert of their lives, even though the tickets were burned in an unfortunate mother accident. 

5. “Freak and Geeks”

Television’s greatest teen show — despite lasting only one season — starred Linda Cardellini, James Franco, Seth Rogen Jason Segel and was created by Judd Apatow. No wonder it was cancelled; those people never went on to do anything great. 

4. “Out of Sight”

Novelist Elmore Leonard often sets his neo-noirs in Detroit, and this heist movie with a good dose of humor, under the direction of Steven Soderbergh, is the best adaptation of Leonard’s work. Even Jennifer Lopez is good in it.

3. “RoboCop”

There’s a reason Detroit has statues of Joe Louis and RoboCop. They’re the cities two biggest badasses. 

2. “Grosse Pointe Blank”

A lovelorn John Cusack, a great soundtrack and some whip-smart dialog. It’s like “High Fidelity,” only with more shoot-outs. 

1. “True Romance”

Like “Beverly Hill Cop,” this Quentin Tarantino-penned, Tony Scott-directed film is only set in Detroit for the beginning before heading to the West Coast. It doesn’t matter because, while in the Motor City, you get a heartfelt romance, Drexel “It ain’t white boy day” Spivey and the greatest tete-a-tete in film history between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken.