July 11, 2012 at 11:25 AM ET
What happened to sweeping epic movies with scenes set in exotic locations -- mountainous vistas, castles, ballrooms filled with dressed-to-the-nines guests? As films more and more represent the lives of everyday people, the settings get smaller, for good or ill.
And since July 11 is 7-11, the so-called "birthday" of 7-Eleven convenience stores (get your free small Slurpee if there's a store in your area), here's a look at movies that have set their scenes -- or even full films -- in those quick-stop stores.
The classic of the convenience-store genre, such that it is. Kevin Smith reportedly used credit cards, proceeds from the sale of his comic-book collection, and money from his parents to make the movie, which was filmed in the very store where he worked. Fun facts: That's Smith's own mom as the "milkmaid," pawing through the dairy products to get the freshest expiration date, and the main character, Brian O'Halloran's frustrated Dante, was originally supposed to be shot to death by a robber.
'Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle'
Sure, it's burger stop White Castle that makes the title, but the first "Harold and Kumar" movie has a great scene in a convenience store, where the extreme-sports jerks who torment our heroes kayak through the products. Thankfully, they get theirs in the end -- Harold and Kumar steal their truck, discover the miscreants' soft-rock mix tape, and realize they're just posers.
'Shaun of the Dead'
The zombies have taken over, but sleepy Shaun doesn't notice at all when he makes his daily trip to the corner store. He doesn't see the undead looming around him or even blink when he slips on some blood in the aisles. It's a hilarious reminder of how we sleepwalk through our daily routine.
In the 1996 film based on the play, the characters don't hang IN the convenience store, they hang in its parking lot, where they have nothing to do but talk. And, occasionally, dance. And then, who should come by but their former classmate-turned-rock-star. "Slacker" director Richard Linklater brings his unique, somewhat dark and lonely twist to the story.
Wherever Christian Slater’s J.D. has moved in his turbulent life, there’s always been a Snappy Snack Shack. The convenience store is the perfect locale for J.D. and Winona Ryder’s Veronica to get to know one another better, and as he gets her a cherry slushie and she picks up corn nuts (BBQ, of course) for her mean girl buddy Heather, the two bond, and he suggests she take a vacation from the “job” of being popular.
'Fast Times at Ridgemont High'
The classic high school sex-and-stoner flick wouldn't be complete without a convenience store scene. When Brad (Judge Reinhold) thwarts a robbery at the end of the film and Spicoli (Sean Penn) declares his heroics to be "Awesome! Totally awesome!" there's just not much more to say. (Note: Some profanity in clip.)
It's a small role, but Rainn Wilson of "The Office" fame does himself proud as a clerk who watches as Juno's pregnancy test develops and the teenager learns she is in fact expecting. Wilson's short part gives him some of the most-quoted lines in a very-quotable film. Watching Juno shake the tester, he tells her "That ain't no Etch-a-Sketch. This is one doodle that can't be undid, Homeskillet."
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