Movies Set in Ohio

Cincinnati Ohio downtown

Is it just me or do you get excited as well when you see Ohio represented in your favorite movie? As we approach the holiday break (prime movie watching season), I wanted to take a look at some movies that are set in Ohio.

Before you angrily message me about the absence of Shawshank, note that these movies are set in, but not necessarily filmed in Ohio. Actually most of them are filmed elsewhere. Shawshank, while filmed in Ohio, is actually set in Maine. I fully expect to do another upcoming list of movies that are filmed in Ohio, but perhaps set elsewhere.

Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (PG)

Scooby and the gang are from the fictional town of Coolsville, Ohio in the Northwestern quadrant of the state. The film was largely shot in Canada.
The second film is not quite as much fun as the first live action Scooby Doo, in which the gang visits Spooky Island to face off against Scrappy Doo. As a Scooby fan dating back to my childhood, it’s still a fun watch. (Click for movie trailer.)

Teachers (1984 – R)

Teachers was both staged and shot in Columbus, Ohio. The film starred Nick Nolte JoBeth Williams, Ralph Macchio and Judd Hirsch. It was filmed at the vacant Central High School near downtown (which has since been converted to the COSI museum). Central is converted into John F. Kennedy High School for the movie.

The movie has an R rating. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I definitely remember watching it the year it came out. I would have been 14 that year, so my parents must have approved. I likely went to see it with my dad. Though he later moved and graduated elsewhere, he did attend Central High School in Columbus for a time. (Click for movie trailer.)

View of Columbus, Ohio downtown and the Scioto River. Central High School, served as the set for the movie Teachers.
Teachers was set in Columbus, Ohio. COSI currently sits where the old Central High School once stood.
It’s on the far left of the photo, west of downtown.

Scream 2 (1997 – R)

Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, and the other Woodsboro survivors head to the fictional Windsor College in Ohio. Atlanta, Georgia and Los Angeles actually acted as a stand in for Ohio. Agnes Scott College outside of Atlanta and UCLA were used to represent Windsor College.

In general I find the Scream movies terrifying. That darn Scream face tends to pop up everywhere. To be quite honest, I’m fairly jumpy at most scary movies. (Click for movie trailer.)

Tommy Boy (1995 – PG-13)

In one of our family’s most quotable movies, Tommy Boy returns to his hometown of Sandusky, Ohio to save Callahan Auto Parts following the death of his father. The film was shot primarily in Toronto and Los Angeles but certainly has an Ohio feel. 

Every Ohioan cringes when Michelle (Julie Warner) goes to the Sandusky airport to catch a flight to Cuyahoga Falls, by way of Columbus. I’m fairly certain Sandusky doesn’t have an airport of that size. And imagine how much longer it would take to fly from Sandusky to Columbus to Cuyahoga Falls than simply jumping in your car and driving the hour distance.

I’ve long been a fan of Tommy Boy and of the Chris Farley/David Spade combination in general. If you haven’t seen it the movie is fun and easy to quote. I confess to seeing it maybe a dozen times over the years. (Click for movie trailer.)

Major League (1989 – R)

I lived in Cleveland when this one came out and to date it’s still one of my favorite sports movies. Like Tommy Boy, it’s provided my family with a bank of quotable lines over the years (“Just a bit outside.” I can actually here Bob Uecker saying that one.)

Most of the movie was actually filmed in Milwaukee. It was cheaper to produce there and not as difficult as working in Cleveland. The Browns and the Indians shared a Municipal Stadium at the time and it was difficult to work around the schedules of both teams.

I think that I will never see golf club head covers without thinking “Hats for bats, keep bats warm.” Thanks Cerrano. (Click for movie trailer.)

Mischief (1985 – R)

This one is a typical teen nerdy-guy-gets-the-popular-girl romp. The movie is set in Nelsonville, Ohio in 1956 with film locations in Nelsonville, Canal Winchester, and Lithopolis.

Rockmill Bridge near Lithopolis in Fairfield County, Ohio. This was a great Ohio set for scenes from the movie Mischief.
Scenes from the movie Mischief were filmed at the Rockmill Bridge near Lithopolis though the movie was set in Nelsonville.

Though it’s largely forgettable, I’ve included it here because my kids enjoyed picking out the locations, including the covered bridge at Rockmill in Fairfield County. Special note: you can check out our visit to Rockmill here. (Click for movie trailer.)

Guarding Tess (1994 – PG-13)

This film features Nicholas Cage as a straight-laced Secret Service agent and Shirley MacLaine as a widowed former First Lady.

The film is set in Somersville, Ohio which is played in the movie by Parkton, Maryland. (Click for movie trailer. Bonus it mentions both Ohio and Columbus in the trailer!)

Little Giants (1994 – PG)

Rick Moranis and Ed O’Neill battle it out as brothers in the small, fictional Ohio town of Urbania (sounds suspiciously like Urbana) as the coaches of opposing pee wee football teams.   Most of the filming occurred in the Central California town of Arroyo Grande. (Click for movie trailer.)

Milk Money (1994 – PG-13)

Melanie Griffith stars as a prostitute on the run from the mob who finds herself in the bedroom community of fictional Middleton, Ohio. Eventually she falls in love with the suburbs and a local science teacher trying to save the wetlands (played by Ed Harris).  Filming took place in Cincinnati and Lebanon, Ohio as wells as Pittsburgh. (Click for movie trailer.)

Rain Man (1988 – R)

Though largely set elsewhere, Dustin Hoffman as Raymond Babbitt originally resides in Cincinnati, Ohio/Cincinnati, Ohio where he drives his father’s car on the driveway as a special treat. Several scenes were shot in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, including that great shot of the Roebling Suspension Bridge.

View of Cincinnati, Ohio through the Roebling Suspension Bridge across the Ohio River. Part of the movie Rain Man was set here.
Though the Roebling was closed to vehicles on our last visit, it still reminds of the movie when the Babbitt brothers left Cincinnati.

The movie mostly earns the R rating due to language. My husband is too good at quoting this movie. (Click for movie trailer. There’s a quick shot of crossing the Roebling in the trailer.)

Heathers (1988 – R)

This movie was sadly ahead of its time. It stars Christian Slater and Winona Ryder and is an odd but captivating look at high school, murder and suicide. If you plan on watching with teens, you may consider watching together.

The movie starts when Christian Slater’s character moves to Westerburg High School in Ohio.  In actuality, filming was completed in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Pasadena. (Click for movie trailer.)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984 – original movie R)

The legendary scare takes place on Elm Street when Freddy terrorizes the teens of fictional Springwood, Ohio. Though my children find the original laughable compared to subsequent versions, I remember being terrified as a teen. The filming for the original movie was done in Los Angeles. (Click for movie trailer. Caution trailer is rated R.)

The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio (2005 – PG-13)

This movie about a jingle-writing housewife from Defiance was actually filmed in Toronto. According to the film makers, the Toronto area had not developed as quickly as Ohio, making Toronto a suitable stand in for a 1950s Ohio. (Click for movie trailer.)

As an outsider to the industry, I find it amusing that movies set in Ohio are usually filmed elsewhere and vice versa. Even if filmed elsewhere, I enjoy the fantasy that the story is set in our state.

Check back soon, I’ll have a list of movies that our filmed in our fine state. Thank you for FindingOhio with us and, as always, we appreciate you sharing our content on social media.