Best Movies set in Michigan

While we tend to think of Hollywood and New York as the center of many movie adventures, there are plenty of movies set in other areas of the world. In other US states, even. Michigan, especially its iconic city of Detroit, plays home to some of the most dramatic, affecting, and iconic movies of all time. Also, some Transformers movies happened there.

Michigan is seeing a renaissance of sorts, being recognized for more than just Detroit. Now there is a wide offer of legal online casinos in MI thanks to recent laws around gambling. The US used to have a federal prohibition on gambling, except for obvious exceptions like Las Vegas. Online gambling was a big no-no until 2018 when the Supreme Court reversed the ban. Michigan joined many other states in passing measures to legalize online gambling and sports betting.

The results have been amazing for the Great Lakes State: revenue has been in the millions every month, with sports betting being an especially successful venture. To put it in perspective, these numbers have matched or exceeded New Jersey, home of Atlantic City. Michigan is now a proper gambling hub in addition to being the site of many big movies. The state deserves some respect for its name, and we’re here to give it. So here are some of the best films set in Michigan.

8 Mile

Rather than glorify Michigan, 8 Mile looked at some of the harsh realities of trying to make a living in the state. And really, it’s not a Michigan thing. Every state has its areas of hardship. What’s unique to Detroit, however, is the spirit of endurance and the underground hip-hop culture. The acting, direction, and music in the movie were 100% authentic, which is why people still resonate with it today.

Evil Dead

Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell are on the map thanks to this horror classic. The two are Michigan natives, and the Evil Dead series has referenced the state several times before. The reboot actually places the evil cabin in Michigan and mentions Flint.


The streets of Detroit are dangerous, and RoboCop attests to that with the story of Alex Murphy. The man is “rebuilt” as RoboCop after being gunned down in the streets by a gang while on duty. What follows is a fun, but very violent action film that’s dripping with satire of politics and corporate dominance. Its messages still ring true today, and it has its gritty setting to thank for that.

American Pie

It’s not all doom and gloom, as one of the most American sex comedies of all time will confirm. The blueprint for the raunchy teen comedy of the 2000s takes place in Michigan, outside of Detroit or any spooky forest. The film, in all of its awkward glory, reminds us that people in Michigan are just people like everyone else. And what’s more American than that?

Michael Bay’s Transformers

Okay, this really doesn’t belong on any “best movies” list, but it’s just funny to think that Transformers is a Michigan movie. When you picture giant truck robots fighting for the fate of the planet, you don’t really picture Michigan as the ideal battleground. But it’s true… for at least the first part of the movie. The sections where Shia LaBeouf’s character buys Bumblebee and tries to woo Megan Fox take place in Michigan, including the first chase. Later parts take the action elsewhere but never forget that Transformers is technically a Michigan movie.

And that’s a selection of some of the best movies set in and filmed in Michigan. Feel free to rewatch them for a fun weekend, but maybe skip Transformers.

Author: Diego Thompson