Updated: Mar 20, 2020
For film critics, going on vacation often represents no movie watching as we escape our regular activities, which works out perfectly right now since nothing major wants to go up against the recent release of Avengers: End Game. But my leaving town last week did not mean no movie work; I prepared by watching projects using the locations I visited, the Grand Canyon and Sedona, Arizona.
Preparation by location-inspired movie watching enhanced the pleasure of this trip, because one of my all-time favorite movies uses the Grand Canyon. Well, as a setting, not actual location filming. But everyone associates the Grand Canyon with Thelma and Louise; I know that in reality, director Ridley Scott turned his cameras loose at Dead Horse Point in Utah, but a canyon visit always warrants a toast to two women who find a form of freedom on the road. Granted, not a happy ending, but then many movies with Grand Canyon settings use the location only for a momentary spectacular visuals rather than exploration of the national park many wonders.
Still, watching Chevy Chase rush out of there in the first Vacation movie inspires a laugh or two; so does a similar moment with Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogan in The Guilt Trip. Though briefly shown, no one misses the romantic beauty of an aerial trip over the canyon in the Bollywood version of Jane Austen called Bride and Prejudice. The region's nighttime glow also works well for Morgan Freeman and Rene Zellweger in Nurse Betty — which also used Nevada locations. The bi-state, Grand Canyon connection also works well with Waking Up in Reno.
Grand Canyon turns up as title for a movie that mostly filmed in Los Angeles and featured little overlap with my trip, which eventually sent me two hours away to Sedona, yet another movie location haven. Like Nevada, Sedona often portrayed a generic Old West with dramatic rock formations and a level of isolation that no longer exists. Still, Sedona travelers like me seek out a place called Broken Arrow trailhead and walk a path taking us through sites seen in an old Jimmy Stewart film. The movie Broken Arrow remains rentable, while the region's monolithic cliffs still overwhelm the senses.
This review was originally aired on 5/10/2019.
You can listen to it online at https://www.kunr.org/post/road-trip#stream/0