The Best Underrated Films Set in New Jersey Image

The under-appreciated cousin of The Big Apple, New Jersey is known for its mysterious nickname, casinos, and an abundance of boardwalks. But there are also many films set here, some well-known and some hidden gems.

Here are just three lesser-known movies set in the state that represent its iconic individuality.

The King of Marvin Gardens (1972)

Featuring a young Jack Nicholson, The King of Marvin Gardens certainly is distinct and reflects on the experimental cinema of the time. The film is about a dreamer who asks his brother for help to build a money-spinning paradise after getting out of jail. However, its stand-out point is that it juxtaposes, strange events, deep characters, and a thought-provoking script, all with a fairly everyday New Jersey backdrop.

Despite its artistic credentials and well-known cast, it’s one of the lesser-known features to come out of the era. Yet, it still manages to capture the spirit of New Jersey and its hidden wonders. Furthermore, the cinematography of the movie manages to beautifully mirror cold, yet nostalgic days spent wandering along the boardwalk. It’s no surprise that still gives it a good review even, 50 years later.

Atlantic City (1980)

Set at a time when casinos were starting to become more popular, Atlantic City centers around a blackjack dealer, played by Susan Sarandon, building a career within the casino. Part drama, part complex love story, it challenges perceptions of relationships and even of the city itself. The focal point of the film is a young woman learning the tricks of the trade from an older man, with tension and danger along the way.

Possibly the best part of the film, though, is how it transports you into the world of the 1980s where casinos were really starting to become a big thing, especially in New Jersey. To illustrate this ‘new beginning’ for the industry, and the state, the film starts with old crumbling buildings being pulled down and replaced by hotels and casinos.

Whilst we can’t get in a time machine and know what it’s like to play in these freshly built casinos, watching films like Atlantic City and getting involved in the modern online casino industry allows you to experience some of this glamor. For example, at, BonusFinder illustrates just how expansive the online casino sector has become, by showcasing a variety of different sites and bonuses.

Paterson (2016)

A slow but in no-way two-dimensional film, Paterson follows a week in the life of a local bus driver, played by Adam Driver. The main character is counter-intuitive and breaks stereotypes with his deep love of poetry and gentle manner. Set in Paterson, New Jersey, the movie takes the viewer along the city streets where they meet a range of interesting people.

The Garden State is well known for the famous creatives that come out of it, and the film does a great job of reflecting its artistic soul. This list alone at shows the talented musicians that have come out of New Jersey. And, whilst there’s much more to the state than music, Paterson does a great job of capturing the innovation that comes from its people.

From underrated classics to modern artistic features, New Jersey is an independent film paradise and a state full of surprises. These films just touch the surface of the many New Jersey-based movies out there. So, grab some salt-water taffy and get watching.

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