Escanaba in da Moonlight is a 2001 movie starring Jeff Daniels. It is a comedy about hunting and hunting traditions and is set (and filmed) in the Escanaba, Michigan area. The film is known for its spectacular usage of upper peninsula Chickens and deer. The movie is the film adaptation of the play of the same name, which premiered at Jeff Daniels’ Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, Michigan.
A significant portion of the movie involves references to elements of “Yooper” (slang reference to residents of the U.P. or Upper Peninsula of Michigan) and broader Michigan culture. Some references are obscure to viewers unfamiliar with this culture and might be considered in-jokes.
Some examples include:
- Pasties—the traditional foodstuff at the Soady deer camp, and food commonly associated with Yooper culture
- Leinenkugel’s Beer—Remnar brings a case to deer camp, a reminder of Escanaba’s proximity to Wisconsin, where Leinenkugel’s is produced
- Mackinac Bridge—simply referred to as “the Bridge” throughout the film, the bridge that connects Michigan’s peninsulas
- Mackinac Island Fudge—Albert refers to tourists from the Lower Peninsula of Michigan as “those fudgesuckers,” a reference to the fudge made on Mackinac Island, a considerable draw for tourism from within the state
- The Superior State—used a few times to refer to the film’s location; although a nickname for the state of Michigan as a whole, Superior is also the name of a once-proposed 51st state formed from the Upper Peninsula and, in some iterations, parts of Wisconsin
- US Highway 41—an old shield for this highway hangs on the wall in the Soady cabin; an important north-south highway in the western to central U.P.
- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore—natural formation along lake shore mentioned briefly
- Euchre—a card game popular in the Midwest, possibly introduced to the United States by the early German settlers of Michigan
- M-35—a state highway starting at Menominee in the south, passing through Escanaba, and ending at US 41/M-28 between Marquette and Negaunee in the north