As New Yorkers and Philadelphians prepare for battle, we got to wondering about some of the other rivalries already in place between the two cities — in motion picture form, that is. I’m not necessarily talking about fictional competitions between NYC and Philly, so much as stacking movies set in those cities against one another.
Through that framework, you’d be surprised at how many competing movies there are between the Empire and Keystone States — just hit the jump and see the head-to-head match-ups for yourself!
THE GHOST STORY: “Ghostbusters” (NYC) vs “The Sixth Sense” (PHI)
New York’s Story: From substantially-sized marshmellow titans to painting-bound European dictators, there’s no shortage of ghosts and ghouls that Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and the other Ghostbusters have come across.
Philly’s Story: The Philadelphia-based film focuses on a young boy named Cole (Haley Joel Osment) that can see dead people. He’s helped by a caring psychologist (Bruce Willis) who’s secretly — spoiler alert — a ghost!
Analysis: “Ghostbusters” has the mileage and franchise assets backing it up, but “The Sixth Sense” is held in higher regard in terms of dramatic fare. Still, I didn’t see poltergeist psychologist Malcolm Crowe use the Statue of Liberty to break into a historical museum, did you?
Advantage: New York
(Umpire’s note: To be fair, Lady Liberty is a plot device in “Ghostbusters 2.” I’m biased in favor of the ’Busters though, so I’ll let this call stand.)
THE COURTROOM DRAMA: “12 Angry Men” (NYC) vs “Philadelphia” (PHI)
New York’s Story: A group of twelve jurors gather together in New York City to determine the guilt or innocence of a defendant — a decision that’s particularly touchy given the fact that a guilty sentence means the death penalty for the defendant in question.
Philly’s Story: Tom Hanks plays Andrew Beckett, a lawyer hiding his homosexuality and AIDS affliction from his co-workers. Beckett is released from his job when his secrets are revealed, prompting him to enlist the aid of homophobic lawyer Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) to challenge the wrongful action, all while battling his own illness.
Analysis: “Philadelphia” kick-started the first of two consecutive Oscar wins for Hanks, and deservedly so. Although “12 Angry Men” has, well, twelve angry jurors at its disposal, I don’t think that army is enough to take down the tandem force of Hanks and Washington.
THE UNDERDOG’S TALE: “Cinderella Man” (NYC) vs “Rocky” (PHI)
New York’s Story: This is the true story of James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe), a down-and-out boxer whose luck turns when former manager Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti) offers him the chance to reenter the ring, leading to a high-profile bout in New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Philly’s Story: Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) is a small-time boxer in Philadelphia with big-time hopes for his career and his romantic prospects with the timid Adrian (Talia Shire). Dubbed the Italian Stallion, Rocky faces off against incredibly popular and arrogant boxing champ Apollo Creed in a highly publicized fight that ends unexpectedly for Rocky, Apollo and all of the spectators involved.
Analysis: I’m not looking to offend Russell Crowe — largely because I prefer my face to be phone-free and also because I think he’s a great actor — but the iconic status of “Rocky,” not to mention its Best Picture win at the Oscars, gives this underdog story a predictable outcome.
TV COMEDY SERIES: “Seinfeld” (NYC) vs “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” (PHI)
New York’s Story: Jerry Seinfeld plays himself (but poorer) in this show about nothing. Well, not quite nothing, as the audience is treated to several morally flawed characters such as George Costanza (Jason Alexander), Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) who frequently get into hairy situations with equally hairy (and hilarious) results.
Philly’s Story: Another show about nothing and awful people, “Always Sunny” focuses on Paddy’s Pub, a fledgling bar in South Philly run by a group of friends who care much more about themselves than anything else. Like “Seinfeld,” these horrifically self-centered exploits are always cringe-worthy and always hysterical.
Analysis: Normally, the combination of Danny DeVito and a fictional musical such as the one seen in “The Nightman Cometh” would spell out a clear and decisive victory — but stacked against the history and longevity of “Seinfeld,” it’s a messier battle than you’d expect.
Advantage: It’s a close call, but ultimately this one goes to New York.
THE SUPERHERO EPIC: “Spider-Man” (NYC) vs “Unbreakable” (PHI)
New York’s Story: Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is bitten by a radioactive spider, thereby giving him great powers and great responsibility as New York’s friendly neighborhood superhero, Spider-Man.
Philly’s Story: David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is, as the title of this M. Night Shyamalan flick implies, unbreakable. His only discernible weakness is a strange aversion to water, but not even Dunn’s surprise nemesis Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) — dubbed Mr. Glass by childhood bullies due to his über-breakable body — can exploit this chink in David’s armor.
Analysis: “Unbreakable” is easily my favorite of Shyamalan’s film, but even his gritty superhero tale can’t topple my affinity for Peter Parker’s incredibly relatable story. By relatable, I mean that I’m a geek — not that I have radioactive spider-induced superpowers.
Advantage: New York
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am thoroughly New York born and bred — but I’m also a Mets fan. So when it comes to this year’s World Series, I’m rooting for the fundamental collapse of the MLB.
What say you, Movies Blog readers? Between New York City and Philadelphia, which city has your film and baseball loyalties? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!