What better way to kick off the summer than with a feel-good movie sure to elicit a few laughs? Whether your taste tends more towards romance or apocalyptic fiction, there is no shortage of movies to watch that take place in the Garden State. Below is a list of six must-see comedies based in part or entirely in New Jersey to add to your summer watchlist.
1. Miss Congeniality (2000)
“Miss Congeniality” casts Sandra Bullock in the role of an FBI agent going undercover as a beauty pageant contestant and follows her efforts to thwart a terrorist targeting the Miss United States pageant.
While the bulk of the film takes place in New York City and San Antonio, Texas, Bullock’s character, Gracie Hart, is a New Jersey native living in Weehawken. She later adopts the persona “Gracie Lou Freebush”— the representative for the Garden State.
The film was a box office success and the winner of the Teen Choice Award for the comedy movie category. Although critics did not receive it favorably, it’s still a classic girl power movie of the early aughts with a karaoke-worthy soundtrack to boot.
You can watch “Miss Congeniality” on HBO Max.
2. Garden State (2004)
No list would be complete without the inclusion of “Garden State,” which is both directed by and stars Zach Braff. The film follows his character, Andrew, a young man who struggles to feel any strong emotions as he flies back to New Jersey following the death of his mother.
Although its themes and subject matter verge a little on the heavier side, “Garden State” is still considered a cult classic with a tasteful dose of deadpan humor. The film also includes a star-studded cast, among which the likes of Natalie Portman, Ian Holm and Peter Saarsgard are featured.
“Garden State”’s filming locations span Braff’s hometown of South Orange to Cranford, Livingston, Maplewood, Tenafly, Newark and Wallington.
You can watch “Garden State” on Prime Video and Hulu.
3. Jersey Girl (2004)
For a family feature film with an ending that is almost teeth-rottingly sweet, “Jersey Girl” is a strong contender. The movie follows Ben Affleck as Ollie Trinké, a disgraced New York public relations bigshot reeling from the death of his wife and his attempts at mending the relationship with his daughter.
“Jersey Girl” is nothing if not heartwarming and tracks the highs and lows of the father-daughter relationship in sites such as Cherry Hill, Highlands and Paulsboro, including the latter’s high school and municipal building.
You can watch “Jersey Girl” on HBO Max, Prime Video, and Apple TV.
4. Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)
For a more classic, laugh-out-loud comedy, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” is always a winner. This New Jersey comedy classic is centered around Kevin James’ character, the eponymous Paul Blart, and his mission to save the hostages at the mall he patrols.
Although New Jersey and its state police form are featured prominently in the movie, filming took place in Massachusetts, with scenes from the fictional West Orange Pavilion Mall actually being shot in Burlington Mall.
You can watch “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” on Prime Video and Apple TV.
5. Morning Glory (2010)
“Morning Glory” is a comedy that stars Rachel McAdams as a novice TV producer attempting to revive a failing morning show on a major New York network. Along the way, she tries to reconcile two feuding news hosts played by Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton.
McAdams’ character, Becky, is a New Jersey native recently laid off from her job at her local news station. One of the film’s earliest scenes features her hopping on the ferry on her way to an interview in Manhattan. Allendale and Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson are among the included filming locations.
You can watch “Morning Glory” on Prime Video and Apple TV.
6. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)
A world nearing its end is an unconventional setting for a romantic comedy, but it is exactly what makes “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” unique. The film follows Dodge (played by Steve Carrell) and Penny (played by Keira Knightly) on a cross-country road trip to find Dodge’s high school sweetheart before the meteor hits Earth. Along the way, the pair eventually progress from strangers to lovers.
Included among their stops on their trip across America are Trenton, where Dodge and Penny get arrested, and Camden.
Though “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” performed poorly at the box office, the performance of its two leading actors is a point of praise.
You can watch “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” on HBO Max, Prime Video, and Hulu.
Did any of your favorite comedies make the list? Let us know and we’d love to hear from you!