10 Awesome Movies Straight Out of Houston

While Houston is popular as the city that hosts the Mission Control Center, there’s certainly a lot more going for the city even location-wise to make it a favorite haunt for filmmakers. The 713, H-Town, Space City, or the Bayou City — use any name you like but Houston certainly is a crowd favorite for many valid reasons. Now, we know that “Houston, we have a problem,” is one of those lines in movie history that become iconic for more reasons than one, but the city’s connection to all things space is really not the only thing related to movies that makes Houston a popular setting, although it is a primary reason for sure. This list of 10 Awesome Movies Straight Out of Houston will show you plenty of Houston connections that make this city a favorite for the movie industry!

Apollo 13

With Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, and Kathleen Quinlan leading the cast, and director Ron Howard at the helm, the docudrama that is Apollo 13 proves to be one of the most successful and gripping journeys into space, taking audiences on a thrilling ride that captures your imagination at every step. And of course, there’s a whole lot of Houston in it too! A movie that was created in very close collaboration with NASA and with details that are as close to the real deal as possible, this hit film received several nominations and wins at leading awards ceremonies the year after its release, and was particularly noted for its high quotient of technical and historical accuracy, especially when compared to other Hollywood movies in the space genre. As for the Houston angle, from the famous lines in the movie with the city’s name in it to the Johnson Space Center and everything else in between, there’s a whole lot of this Texan city throughout Apollo 13.

Friday Night Lights

One of the best high school movies to make it to audiences at the turn of the century, Friday Night Lights has Billy Bob Thornton, Garrett Hedlund, Derek Luke, Jay Hernandez, Lucas Black, and Tim McGraw leading the audiences through an exciting football season that doesn’t just have the team and the coaches pumping adrenaline but also has the entire town riled up in support. Based on the book Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream, the film reveals just how much solace and excitement a sports journey can bring to people and how even when a team loses, there are a lot of hidden wins and triumphs as long as everyone has given their best. Raking in twice the production amount at the box office, the movie remains a favorite for fans of movies from the sports genre, and thanks to its dedicated football theme, Friday Night Lights even won the Best Sports Movie ESPY Award among other accolades.

Reality Bites

Starring Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, and Ben Stiller, this romantic comedy and drama is one of the best ones out there and rightly deserves the cult status it has gained over the years. Directed by Ben and written by Helen Childress, Reality Bites is hardly an effort to make it into the big leagues, but nevertheless, is one ride that you wouldn’t want to get off of in a hurry! Funny in an offhanded and almost non-deliberate way, the film plays out around the lives of youngsters in pursuit of living the grunge life and giving the 1990s the color it had. And as far as the Houston connection goes, the story of the film is set in the city and has a whole bunch of locations and mentions throughout its 99 minutes of runtime. Making three times the amount it took to produce, Reality Bites was a box office even at the time but later saw itself catapulted to cult status, thanks to an audience that increasingly sought it out to relive the 1990s.

Space Cowboys

Yet another space movie out of Houston, but one with an interesting twist, Space Cowboys is an adventure drama that has some of the most iconic stars of the yesteryears in it, from Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones to Donald Sutherland and James Garner. Directed by Clint, the film revolves around four old gentlemen who used to be top test pilots during their younger days and have now been called upon to don the roles of space cowboys, all in a bid to steer a dead Russian communications satellite and keep it from crashing into Earth and putting lives at stake. Making twice the amount it took to make it, the film was a hit with audiences, not just because we got to see a lineup of brilliant actors doing what they do best but also because the movie itself was quite the interesting ride. With favorable reviews from the audiences as well as critics, Space Cowboys remains one of the most well-loved movies that has our favorite elderly heroes leading the way. What’s especially endearing about the film is how those who we hardly think can make a difference eventually go beyond everyone’s expectations to change the world forever.

Brewster McCloud

A black comedy with loads of characters and an equal load of incidents at every juncture, Brewster McCloud is one of those films that are bizarre in every way but are yet just the kind of entertainment that gives us a taste of the unusual. Of course, what makes the movie especially endearing to the city of Houston is that it all plays out at Houston Astrodome. In fact, paying due attention to the movie’s connection to the city, even the film’s premiere was held at the Houston Astrodome itself, with more than 35000 people expected to attend the grand spectacle. Although received with mixed reviews, it was generally accepted that despite not being on the same level as M.A.S.H, the film did make quite an impression. We’re just glad Brewster McCloud wasn’t titled what it was originally supposed to be — Brewster McCloud’s (Sexy) Flying Machine. It’s just a lot more words for a movie that anyway has so much going on in it! As weird as it can be with particularly impressive inroads into an experimental genre, this one’s a must-watch indeed!

Tears in the Bayou

Every city has a tale to tell, and not all that you see in it is hunky-dory and beautiful. And so it is with the city of Houston too. And one of the movies that go beyond the usual and delve into the real picture that the city and its people paint is Tears in the Bayou. A documentary that shows the contrasting elements of the city — a city with the second-most Fortune 500 companies that call it home on one hand, and on the other hand, a city that is an infamous contributor to the nation’s murder rate — this one shows just how much the shootings in the city affect lives. Trying to dig into the reasons as well as showing to audiences the impact, Tears in the Bayou is the only one on this list that does not shy away from showing you the true face of Houston, sans makeup and pomp, even if it shows the audience that the face indeed has a lot more wrinkles than we think.

Terms of Endearment

When you have Debra Winger, Shirley MacLaine, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Jeff Daniels, and John Lithgow leading the way, and especially when you have a rockstar filmmaker like James L. Brooks leading the way heading the direction, screenplay, and even the production department, you know you are in for a treat. And that’s what Terms of Endearment turns out to be! A highly successful film that made a whopping 20 times the amount it took in production costs — earning $165 million against only $8 million — this one is a beautifully woven tale of family and love and just how relationships evolve over time. With healthy doses of comedy and with a sprinkling of heartbreak too, the movie stands testimony to the brilliance of a host of actors and shows how even the simplest of storylines can engage an audience and rein them in if only a film is made with the love that it needs. In more ways than one, Terms of Endearment is the perfect recipe for a movie, and its Houston connection makes it even more of a worthy candidate to find a place on this list.

Rushmore

Coming-of-age movies are always a cool ride and when it’s a comedy-drama, you know it has to be a ride worth your money. Well, Rushmore is all that and more! Revolving around the Rushmore Academy in Houston and telling the story of a 15-year-old scholarship student who is expelled and forced to go to a public school, all for love, as well as the other subplots that unravel during the course of his growing into a more mature young man, the film is directed and co-written by Wes Anderson, with Owen Wilson sharing the writing credits. Starring Jason Schwartzman, Olivia Williams, Bill Murray, Brian Cox, Seymour Cassel, and Mason Gamble, the film has a whole lot of Houston in it. From references to the city to the setting of the movie, to of course the landmarks such as St. John’s School, the Lamar High School, the North Shore High School, and more, there are plenty of glimpses of the city of Houston in here. All in all, Rushmore makes for the perfect coming-of-age film that has now acquired cult status among fans.

Urban Cowboy

Even as filming was underway, Urban Cowboy was a big deal for the city of Houston. And when the premiere of the film that was held in the city had some of the top Hollywood celebrities visiting the city, everyone knew that the film had done justice to the city it was set in as well as shot in. Directed by James Bridges and with John Travolta, Debra Winger, Scott Glenn, Barry Corbin, and Madolyn Smith leading the way as the primary cast members, the film is a romantic Western that revolves around the volatile relationship that exists between the two main protagonists Uan “Bud” Davis and Sissy Davis and shows just how foul tempers and choosing the wrong things in life can ruin a perfectly beautiful relationship. Of course, it all ends well for both and there are plenty of people who play their part in bringing the two lovers back together, but what truly caught the attention of the audience was the weaving of the story to depict heartbreaks and triumphs, all in the same breath. Making around five times the production amount at the box office, Urban Cowboy was both a critical as well as commercial hit, and of course, a hearty hit for the cities of Houston and Pasadena too!

Jason’s Lyric

As a movie that dedicates itself to eroticism, romanticism, and psychological drama, Jason’s Lyric is one of the most gripping tales told about how one’s childhood can play a major role in the choices one makes, and not always the right ones either. Bringing to audiences the story of two brothers from the Third Ward area of the city of Houston, the movie reveals the childhood scars that both of them carry, and how the different choices they make despite or because of these scars shape their future as well as the future of those around them. Starring Allen Payne, Jada Pinkett, Bokeem Woodbine, Anthony ‘Treach’ Criss, Eddie Griffin, and Forest Whitaker, Jason’s Lyric is all about the tough choices in life and how making them or running away from them has real repercussions on several lives. With a sexually charged premise that also reveals the delicate bonds that build relationships, the film is a pretty impressive experiment that brings into the mix a wide variety of different genres. Although the film received mixed reviews from critic, it did quite well at the box office. What sets it apart is its treatment of a storyline that could have gone either way, and that’s what makes Jason’s Lyric an endearing movie.

Let’s Wave Houston Goodbye For Now!

A city that has launched itself into the limelight in more ways than one, there’s a lot going for Houston indeed! And despite the many challenges it hides under its cloak and underbelly, the city remains a favorite haunt for filmmakers and artists alike. And while this list of 10 Awesome Movies Straight Out of Houston has brought to you some of the best ones, there are plenty more out there that pay homage to the city and its people in the most creative of ways. For now, we hope you enjoyed this ride through the city and all its landmarks, all through the lens of the many films we talked about!

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