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'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' is a educational film, of sorts, when it comes to living in Chicago.
'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' is a educational film, of sorts, when it comes to living in Chicago.

26 things we learned about Chicago from the movies

The landscape and lifestyle of Chicago is a little suspect in the eyes of Hollywood. Here are things we learned about our CTA, sex lives and more from movies

Written by
Time Out Chicago editors

Believe it or not, the Transformers movies are educational. Not only do you learn that giant robots from outer space have testicles, but there are surprising insights into our city. Michael Bay filmed two installments of the reality-eschewing franchise in Chicago. We learned that aliens can easily lay waste to the ornate Tribune Tower…and that the building will be quickly rebuilt. And blown up again.

That’s hardly the only life lesson Hollywood has taught us about our hometown, nor the only fact that smells a little fishy. Movies have shown us unexpected things about the people of the CTA, blues music and haunted houses.

Here then are 23 things we learned about Chicago from the movies.

RECOMMENDED: More on living in Chicago

1. John Cusack deejayed at Double Door. (High Fidelity, 2000)

2. Everyone in the city of Chicago has musical talent... (The Blues Brothers, 1980)

3. …and everyone in the suburbs lives in a mansion where parents leave their kids alone to throw giant parties. (Every John Hughes movie, the 1980s)

4. You won't get arrested for jumping on a float. (Ferris Bueller's Day Off, 1986)

5. You can easily climb onto the roof of the Smurfit-Stone building. (Adventures in Babysitting, 1987)

6. If you're a woman and you murder someone, you will not get the death penalty. (Chicago, 2002)

7. The John Hancock building is haunted… (Poltergeist III, 1988)

8. …as are your medicine cabinets. (Candyman, 1992)

9. You can take a dump on the street if you're wearing a wedding dress. (Bridesmaids, 2011)

10. If you're a dancer (particularly if you're a terrible one), your Juilliard auditions are held in the Chicago Theatre. (Save the Last Dance, 2001)

11. O'Hare delays can cause a viral outbreak. (Contagion, 2011)

12. Jumping atop CTA trains is easy—when the car roofs are flat. (Next of Kin, 1989)

13. The CTA once employed lonely, beautiful token takers. (While You Were Sleeping, 1995)

14. When the CTA trains are suddenly empty late at night, the cars are a perfect place to have sex. (Risky Business, 1983)

15. You can even ride a horse onto a CTA train. (Just Visiting, 2001)

16. Watch out for those CTA gangs, which are straight out of a Michael Jackson video or West Side Story. (Adventures in Babysitting)

17. Even in the future, the CTA will suck. (Divergent, 2014)

18. The only thing more tedious than a long Metra ride is one you have to repeat over and over again. (Source Code, 2011)

19. All car chases lead under the Lake Street El or on Lower Wacker. (The Dark Knight, 2008)

20. The Aragon Ballroom is actually a movie theater and magnet for lurking parent-murderers. (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, 2016) 

21. When you're in Greektown, you can see the Toronto skyline from the harbor bridges. (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, 2002)

22. A mountain range lies just outside the city limits. (The Fugitive, 1993)

23. Tall palm trees line our streets. (National Lampoon's Vacation, 1983)

24. You can drive north on Lake Shore Drive to get downtown from O'Hare. (My Best Friend's Wedding, 1997)

25. Space robots really hate our skyscrapers. (Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3, 2011; Transformers: Age of Extinction, 2014)

 26. Vince Vaughn is the greatest Chicago tour guide of all time. (The Break-Up, 2006)

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