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10 of the Best Movies That Take Place in Philadelphia

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When it comes to iconic United States cities, few are as ingrained in the public consciousness as Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love is known for its cheesesteaks, giant mall (which is actually in the next town over), pretzels, and important events in American history.

Outside of those real-world things, Philly has been used as a setting for some incredible movies. In fact, according to Wikipedia, Philly has almost 120 movies set within the city. So, we’ve decided to rummage through the rather large to pick the ten best movies that take place in Philadelphia! It was no easy task, but we’ve managed to pull it off!

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10. Shazam!

Shazam! is a fantastically goofy superhero movie that takes the tropes of the genre and creates something fun and interesting with them. And as an added bonus, the movie takes place in the fine city of Philadelphia! You’ll see shots of Center City, the William Penn statue, the famous Art Museum steps, and even Geno’s Steaks. It’s like one giant Philly Easter Egg. See our review of Shazam! for more.

9. National Treasure

If there’s one thing Philadelphia has a lot of, it’s museums. National Treasure uses plenty of those museums for its plot, but there are also scenes from Washington, D.C. The movie shows iconic Philly locations such as the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the Franklin Institute.

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8. Creed

Creed is sort of a sequel to Rocky, but with its focus shifted away from Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky to Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Johnson Creed. Stallone still plays a critical role in the movie, of course, but Creed feels different enough from original Rocky films to stand on its own. It’s a refreshing reboot to the Rocky story and is definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.

7. Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook is a very emotional movie that’ll tug on your heartstrings in many ways with its mix of romantic comedy and drama. Lots of film takes place in Philly suburb Upper Darby, but there’s plenty of Eagles action, as Philly’s beloved football team is an integral part of the movie’s plot.

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6. 12 Monkeys

For science fiction fans who want to enjoy a Philly-based movie, this is the one to go with. Director Terry Gilliam knocks it out of the park in this incredible movie. Unfortunately, the post-apocalyptic movie doesn’t take place exclusively in Philly, but it definitely features enough iconic landmarks in the city to make it have that Philadelphia feel.

5. The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense isn’t actually a movie that makes you think of Philadelphia, but it most definitely takes place in The City of Brotherly Love. The horror movie features one of the most iconic twists in any movie, and it has one of the most quoted lines. The Sixth Sense is how M. Night Shyamalan really became a household name as a director, so it’s worth checking out just for that.

4. Trading Places

If you’re into comedies, this is the Philly-based movie for you. It stars two comedic geniuses in Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy, so you know it’s going to have you rolling on the floor laughing uproariously. It’s a quotable movie, featuring quite a few lines that you’re sure to remember. And the Philadelphia setting actually matters, which makes it a great film for Philly residents.

3. The Italian Job

The Italian Job is one of the most underrated heist movies out there. While most people heap praise on films like Ocean’s Eleven, this movie deserves just as much love. The all-star cast features names like Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Jason Statham, Seth Green, Mos Def and Donald Sutherland. A movie with those kinds of names can’t be bad!

2. Invincible

When it comes to inspiring football stories, few make you believe you can accomplish anything quite like Invincible. The football movie focuses on Philadelphia’s beloved Eagles and an unlikely hero named Vince Papale (played by Mark Wahlberg). Not only is it a great movie, but it really gives you a feel for Philadelphia in the 1970s.

1. Rocky

In the ultimate no-brainer, Rocky tops the list of Philly-based movies. Philadelphia literally has a statue dedicated to Rocky right in the middle of the city, and people come from far and wide to run up the iconic steps (trust me, I live in Philadelphia and people are always running up the steps).

While Rocky is a film that truly defines all things Philadelphia, it’s also just a classic movie that can be appreciated no matter where you live. It’s the movie that truly defined the sports genre, and it’s just a masterpiece in the film world. Most of the sequels could easily make this list as well, so if the original Rocky isn’t enough for you, go out and see the rest of the movies (you could skip Rocky V, though).

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Kir Rich
Kir Rich

It’s always interesting to see that a movie was filmed in one’s own city as landmarks are recognizable and you have been there. While some great movies have been filmed in/around Philadelphia, I am not all that familiar with any landmarks from there, being from L.A. Of course Rocky is the ultimate underdog movie and the steps he runs up at the end of the movie is supposed to be a great landmark from Philadelphia. Being a new member to whatnerd.com, I am sure we will be seeing other similar columns about movies filmed around the country, if they have… Read more »

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