UCI   at   the   Movies

The University of California, Irvine is one of the fastest growing campuses of the UC system, and has one of the largest physical layouts of any UC campus. Since its founding in 1965, its large and diverse campus settings have provided the location for scores of movies and other productions. A partial list follows. In addition, some very interesting video clips of the UC Irvine scenes are available at (UCI on the silver screen by Trevor Harmon).

Also visit Movie Locations in Orange County an interactive map of films and filming locations in Orange County.

HANGOVER 3 (2013) ****

Hangover3 cover The Hangover saga ends in Las Vegas, where it began. But along the way Alan (Zach Galifianakis) drives down the 73 freeway next to UC Irvine in his convertible with a large giraffe in tow. Unfortunately, the campus overpass is lower then the giraffe's head. Then a big accident followed, and the tire marks were visible on the freeway for the next weeks. So next time you take the 73 freeway heading south, look for a giraffe skull by the side of the road before you exit for the campus.

Then the guys eventually return to Vegas to end the journey they began in the first film--a trip down memory lane. It just shows that the road to Vegas runs by UC Irvine.
(See a photo of the exit sign the giraffe hit in the movie. A three day shoot on 73 freeway for this scene.

OCEAN'S ELEVEN (2001) ****

Oceans cover Ocean's Eleven improves on 1960's Rat Pack original with supernova casting, a slickly updated plot, and Steven Soderbergh's graceful touch behind the camera. Soderbergh reportedly relished the opportunity "to make a movie that has no desire except to give pleasure from beginning to end," and he succeeds on those terms, blessed by the casting of George Clooney as Danny Ocean, the title role originated by Frank Sinatra. Fresh out of jail, Ocean masterminds a plot to steal $163 million from the seemingly impervious vault of Las Vegas's Bellagio casino, not just for the money but to win his ex-wife (Julia Roberts) back from the casino's ruthless owner (Andy Garcia).

The scenes where Danny Ocean and his team steal a "pinch" to create an electromagnetic pulse was filmed at the Gillespie Neuroscience Research Facility on the UC Irvine campus. The scenes were filmed at night and when the university was closed over the weekend. During the shooting, Clooney and the rest of the gang had a late night bite at the Anteatery!
(See a photo of the Brad Pitt on the back roof of the Gillespie facility as Clooney and the guys (in the truck) steal the 'pinch' from UCI.)


Extreme cover You had to look quickly to find this in the movie theater. A remake of the classic roady theme. A sneak peek into the lives of a group of friends taking a journey to the extreme. A bit on the crazy side, they unleash their passion for alternative sports, the outdoors and the excitement of the unknown. In short, ESPN extreme sports goes on a road trip: surfing, BMX, snowboarding, skateboarding.

Some of the lunch scenes at the beginning of the movie were film in the Ariba Baja Grill and other scenes in front of Urban Guerilla at the University Center across from the UCI campus.

CREATOR (1985) **

Creator cover Do you ever wonder what really happens in the basement of BIOSCI? This is the movie to answer your questions, and convince you to switch majors. In this movie, an eccentric, brilliant scientist sets out to "recreate" his wife who died 25-years before. To complicate matters, just when he's about to succeed he falls head-over- heels for a beautiful coed. Based on the novel by Jeremy Leven. Peter O'Toole stars, he must have needed the money.

No this isn't a 199 independent study class in the lab. But portions were filmed in Aldrich Park and at the UCI Medical School in Orange.

POLTERGEIST (1982) ****

Poltergeist cover A family's ordinary tract home suddenly becomes a gateway for enraged ghosts who kidnap their little girl and take her to their twilight world. Hiring paranormal experts, the family attempts to discover why she was taken and how to get her back. Great performances by all in this deluxe ghost story. It won several Academy Award Nominations.

If you have been to Irvine, then this film must have seemed familiar. The tract home of the family looks like its in a development built by the Irvine Company. But the really scary part is that some scenes were film at the UC Irvine Main Library (when Steve Freeling goes to visit Marsh Lesh, the person who exorcises the spirits from the home.). Think of that when you are studying alone late at night...
(See a photo of the library from the film.)

SILENT MOVIE (1976) **

Silent Movie cover Silent Movie is director Mel Brooks's comic tribute to the golden days of the silent screen. A movie within a movie, SILENT MOVIE stars Brooks as Mel Funn, a filmmaker who has seen better days--for one thing, he's just come out of a bout with the bottle. When his best friends (Marty Feldman and Dom DeLuise) rescue him from despair and convince him to make another attempt at moviemaking, Mel comes up with an idea--a silent picture.

Portions of this film were shot in several locations across the UC Irvine campus, such as the Main Library, Aldrich Park, and the Gateway Plaza. Do the movies imitate reality: when they enter Aldrich Hall in the movie, it is a geriatric center.
(Photo of Feldman, Brooks and DeLuise on electric wheelchair race around ring road.)


Conquest coverThe fourth movie in the five film series. Set in 1991, North America is a police state in which cats and dogs have been wiped out by a virus brought back from space by astronauts, and the human race has enslaved and domesticated all primates under the leadership of Governor Breck (Don Murray). Though the previous film's heroes, Zira and Cornelius, were murdered two decades ago simply for having the ability to think and speak, their son Caeser (Roddy McDowall) was spared through the generosity of Armando the circus keeper (Ricardo Montalban). Now, a grown-up Caeser senses that the time is ripe for revolution, and he declares vengeance and foments war between humans and apes when Armando perishes trying to keep the smart simian's identity a secret.

The openning sequence is on the steps of Social Science Tower leading to the ring (see photo below). The large protest and demonstrations scenes were filmed on the UC Irvine campus. Tt one point the apes storm the University Administration building to overthrow their human rulers. This metaphor raises an inevitable question among students, faculty and UCI administrators: who amongst us are the humans, and who are the apes?
(Photo of apes are going down the stairs from Social Science Tower to the ring road. Notice the absence of trees since UCI was so new, it gave the stark look the director wanted.)

Google map of filming locations in Orange County

View Movie Locations in Orange County in an interactive map.


STARTREK XI (2009) ****

Startrek XI poster The future begins here . . . again. The eleventh movie in the epic Startrek series returns to the beginning, with a new cast for the Starship Enterprise 1701. A new Captain Kirk, Spock, Dr. McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and the rest of the crew for a new generation of fans. Leonard Nimoy also appears in the film, talk about the longevity of Vulcans. And for the old fans who have waited years for their Startrek fix, this will be a return to their youth when the goal of life was to go where no one has gone before. Now they are going there again.

The OC connection is that part of the film was shot in the blimp hangers in Tustin, where a long series of movies have been filmed (see below). Not the last time that aliens will be spotted in the OC. The UCI connection is that former dean of Engineering has two grandchildren playing Vulcan schoolchildren in the film--isn't this what engineers do in their free time?

REDBELT (2008) *

Redbelt poster Set in West LA, this is the story of a Jiu-jitsu master who has avoided the professional fight scene to teach self-defense courses and live by the samurai code of honor. But life puts challenges in his path, including a run-in with the LA police, economic struggles, and scheming fight promotors. This leads him into the ring for his first fight to regain his honor and pay off his debts. Chiwetel Ejiofor is the Jiu-jitsu master, and Tim Allen is surprisingly cast as an over-the-hill Hollywood actor. If you like violence, cagefights, and nasty LA cops, this is the movie for you. The ultimate fighting championship on the big screen. The film was written and directed by David Mamet

The redeeming strength of the film is an appearance by The Professor in the fight scene, as Ejiofor enters the stadium. This was filmed at the Pyramid at Long Beach State University.
(Screenshot from the movie as Ejiofor meets Randy Couture as he enters the Pyramid in movie's climatic end.)


Running with Scissors poster If you like wierd, this is your movie. Its the story of a boy whose mother (a poet) gave him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus. So at the age of twelve, he finds himself amidst Victorian squalor living with the doctor's bizarre family, and befriending a pedophile who resided in the backyard shed. The story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, and the Christmas tree stayed up all year round, where Valium was consumed like candy, and if things got dull an electroshock- therapy machine could provide entertainment. A story like this deserves an all-star cast: Annette Bening, Gwyneth Paltrow, Brian Cox, Evan Rachel Wood, Joseph Cross, Joseph Fiennes, and Viola Davis.

This was filmed in an old theatre in San Pedro. But its included because The Professor was part of the scene where Annette Bening reads her poetry. He's wearing black, in a crowd of 400 people wearing black. Four stars for the excellent casting of extras.
(Photo from on the set at the poetry reading)

BORAT (2005) ***

Borart poster Who says the OC isn't cool? Borat Sagdiyev is a TV reporter of a popular show in Kazakhstan as Kazakhstan's sixth most famous man and a leading journalist. He is sent from his home to America by his government to make a documentary about American society and culture. While watching Baywatch on TV, Borat discovers how beautiful their women are in the form of C. J. Parker, who was played by actress Pamela Anderson (who lives in California, of course). He decides to go on a cross-country road trip to California in a quest to make her his wife and take her back to his country.

What does this have to do with the OC? Remember the scene where Borat kidnaps Pamela Anderson? It was filmed at the Virgin Megastore at The Block of Orange.


American Wedding poster Someone got a good laugh from this movie . . . all the way to the bank. This is the third in the series of American pie movies, and each is worse than its predecessor. In this version, Stifler nearly ruins the frantic nuptials of Jim and his band-camping sweetheart Michelle. Half of the original cast is missing, and almost all the entertainment; if you like this, don't tell your friends, they'll start to wonder about you. The only thing that is certain, is that you won't want to eat apple pie again.

Unfortunately, OC has a bit part in this disaster; parts were filmed in the Plaza in the City of Orange, which has also served as a backdrop for such movie classics as "Big Moma's House" and "Rocky and Bullwinkle".


OC Movie poster Do you want to remember the trauma of SATs and applying to college? A funny poke at California stereotypes, and especially Orange County. Life's a beach, then it's not. Who can figure why Stanford didn't except this stellar student from Cota de Caza? The two brothers head north to Palo Alto to set things straight. Stars the kids of the stars (Tom Hanks' son and Sissy Spacek's daughter), and cameos some of the best names in comedy (Ben Stiller, John Lithgow, Catherine O'Hara, Kevin Kline, Garry Marshall, Harold Ramis, Lily Tomlin and Chevy Chase).

Despite the title, less than a quarter of the film locations were in Orange County. (Stanford scenes are actually a combination of USC and Cal Tech locations.)

RAT RACE (2001) ****

Rat Race poster Rat Race is the modern remake of "Its a Mad, Mad, Mad World." An eccentric casino owner in Las Vegas stages a race to win $2 million, and the craziness follows. Who can forget the bus full of Lucy Ricardos, the stop at the Barbie Museum, or those loving squirrels ("they make crackerjack pets). You laughed so hard in the theatre, that your soda came out your nose! Includes an all-star ensemble cast of comics: Jon Lovitz (UC Irvine Grad!), Rowan Atkinson, Lanai Chapman, John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr., Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Kathy Najimy, Paul Rodriguez, Amy Smart, Dave Thomas and Vince Vieluf.

The scenes supposedly filmed inside the Las Vegas airport were actually filmed in our own John Wayne/Santa Ana airport in the center of the concourse. The marble walls and glass windows should look familiar.


Fast and Furiious cover This story about street racing in LA almost has a script and plot. But the real reason for watching is to see LA sights flyby. Vin Diesel (as Dominic) rebuilds high performance racecars by day and races them on the LA streets by night. It starts in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium and then careens around LA and Orange county. For a change of pace, and a little spare change, they hijack electronics-filled 18-wheelers.

The Asian motorcycle gang scenes were shot in the "Little Saigon" area of Westminster. The scenes with the statues at a temple were filmed at the Cultural Court on Bolsa Avenue, and the large Asian archway they drive under is down the street at 9631 Bolsa.

PEARL HARBOR (2001) ***

Pearl Harbor A film that will live in infamy, the Disney blockbuster that didn't break records but almost broke the bank. An attempt to merge the love interest from "Titanic" with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Impressive special effects, and a top flight cast. The best imagery of December 7th that has ever been produced. One can't say the same for the script; if you are interested in history, see "Tora, Tora."

The Blimp Hangers in Tustin (at the Tustin Marine Corps Air Station) were seen in a training scene featuring Alec Baldwin. A 1943 California Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, the huge hangars once housed coast-patrolling blimps (a nice historical link to the film). At 17 stories high, 1000 feet long and 298,199 square feet, they are among the largest wooden structures in the world. The hangers have also been seen in "Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me" (1999), the lunar landscape in "The Earth to the Moon" (1997) was recreated within one of the hangers, and parts of "Star Trek XI" were filmed there.

LITTLE NICKY (1999) ****

Little Nicky cover Does your instructor want you to read King Lear? Instead, you can watch Little Nicky for the modern, Cliff-Notes version. Adam Sandler plays the sweetest of three sons of Satan (Harvey Keitel), who's got to go to Earth and retrieve his nasty, power-hungry brothers lest they take over Hell and make it a thoroughly evil place. This weird premise is just an excuse to trot out a hodgepodge of comic bits and cameo performances. Admittedly, a lot of the jokes are aimed at adolescent, bathroom humor; but sometimes bathroom humor is funny. If you like Sandler, you might enjoy this--otherwise avoid it.

While not technically shot in OC, the basketball game sequence was shot at the Pyramid at Long Beach State University. Watch the film for the brilliant cameos by Regis Philbin, Reese Witherspoon, Ozzy Osbourne, and Henry Winkler, and "The Professor". I'm sitting in the third row behind the backboard when Adam shoots his free throws. Any movie with The Professor merits 4 stars, otherwise this would be a 2 star flick.
(Photo from the film)

PERFECT STORM (1999) ****

Perfect Storm cover This is an adaptation of Sebastian Junger's seafaring bestseller is a faithful if by-the-numbers true-story account of a monster storm that rocked New England in 1991. Setting out for the one last catch that will make up for a lackluster fishing season, Captain Billy Tyne (George Clooney) pushes his boat the Andrea Gail out to the waters of the Flemish Cap off Nova Scotia for what will be a huge swordfish haul. While his crew is gathering fish, three storm fronts (including a hurricane) collide to create a "perfect storm" of colossal force, and Billy's path back to Gloucester, Massachusetts, takes them right smack into the middle of it. In the end, they all perish...victims of the perfect storm. A wonderful screenplay, great action, good acting, a real adventure.

George Clooney must like OC, because instead of flying to Gloucester to film all the ocean scenes, some were shot at the Dana Point Harbor. See the movie, and see Dana Point with a Massachusetts accent.

OUT OF TOWNERS (1999) **

Out of Towners cover Do you think you miss all the action of the Big Apple by living in Irvine? This remake of the 1960s classic has Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn visiting New York City. Obviously this is before Mayor Guilliani cleaned up the place, since they run into one "friendly" New Yorker after another. Teaches you to put some money in your shoe, and don't trust strangers. Of course, in the end it all works out and Steve and Goldie live happily every after in NYC.

If you can't go all the way to NYC over the break, you can at least visit John Wayne airport where some of the airport scenes were filmed.


Starship Troopers cover Drawn from Robert Heinlein's classic sci-fi novel, Starship Troopers creates a special-effects extravaganza that functions on multiple levels of entertainment. The film might be called "Beverly Hills 90210 Goes Into Space," with its youthful cast of guys and women who look like they've been recruited (and in some cases they were) from the original cast of 90210. The film also has incredible, graphically intense action sequences (definitely not for children) in which heavily armed forces from Earth go to off-world battle against vast hordes of alien "bugs" bent on planetary conquest. Stars Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Neil Patrick Harris and Denise Richards. After watching the shower scene, you'll want to enlist.

Part of the bug scenes were filmed in Mile Square Park just off the 405. In addition, the jumpball game toward the beginning of the film was shot at the Pyramid at Long Beach State University. If you look closely, and have the DVD running at slow speed, you can find "The Professor" as an extra in the crowd. This alone merits the 4 stars.


Romy Reunion cover Surprisingly overlooked at Oscar time. This is a way to get ready for your future. Romy and Michelle go to their high school reunion, and lie about their lives since graduation. This is a test of life that awaits UCI students. As soon as you are old enough to forget the HS cliques, its time for your HS reunion. Why didn't Lisa Kudro just admit she was on "Friends."

You need to look quickly, but in one scene guests arrive at the hotel, which is actually the Newport Beach public library near Fashion Island. Is that the professor they pass on the way in?

JERRY McGUIRE (1996) ****

Jerry McGuire cover One of the best romantic comedies of the 1990s, this box-office hit cemented writer-director Cameron Crowe. This is a story about a sports agent (Tom Cruise) whose fall from grace motivates his quest for professional recovery, and the slow-dawning realization that he needs the love and respect of the single mom (Renée Zellweger in her breakthrough role) who has supported him through the worst of times. Arguably one of Cruise's best, most underrated performances, and in an Oscar-winning role, Cuba Gooding Jr. plays the football star who remains Jerry Maguire's only loyal client on a hard road to redemption and personal growth.

Again, on the way to fame and fortune they stopped at the John Wayne/Santa Ana airport to film some of their scenes. When you buy something at the airport next time, tell the cashier to "show me the money" and see if they understand. That is, if they don't call security on you.


Clear and Present cover The third installment in Tom Clancy's series about CIA analyst Jack Ryan. If you thought of interning at the CIA this summer, see this first. Ryan is embroiled in a failed White House bid to wipe out a Colombian drug cartel and cover up the mess. Ryan places himself in harm's way to extract covert soldiers abandoned in a Latin American jungle. A classic spy thriller staring Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe, Anne Archer, and James Earl Jones. This is one of the best in the Jack Ryan series.

Some of the airport scenes were filmed at our own John Wayne/Santa Ana airport. You could spend the hours waiting for your next flight home visiting the sites of all the films shot here.

Other films were shot at the Tustin Blimp Hanger, Downtown Disney, Little Saigon, and a variety of other venues in OC. For additional information on OC films visit the Internet Movie Data Base.

Some photos are compliments of UCI Library Archive. Send comments and UCI movie info to The Professor at UCI