This latest Lycoming Critic’s Corner movie-list looks to the city’s Uptown Music Collective, which will pay tribute to the music of Tom Petty with concerts at the Community Arts Center on April 12 and 13.
Here, in no special order, are 10 films featuring the beloved rock legend on their soundtracks:
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1992)
This colossally effective thriller — only the third film to win all five top Oscars — stars Jodie Foster as an FBI agent stalking a serial killer, with help from a jailed cannibal played to eerie perfection by Anthony Hopkins. Petty’s “American Girl” comes roaring out of a car radio just before one key abduction.
Written by Daryl Ponicsan (“The Last Detail”), this underseen military-academy drama boasts an incredible up-and-coming cast: Besides George C. Scott, it stars Tom Cruise, Sean Penn, Timothy Hutton and Giancarlo Esposito. Petty’s tune here is the Petty/Nicks duet “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.”
JERRY MAGUIRE (1996)
Few directors make better use of music in their movies than Cameron Crowe (“Say Anything,” “Almost Famous”). Crowe wrote and directed this fan-fave sports-agent drama starring Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger. With Cuba Gooding Jr. in a supporting role that won him an Academy Award. Petty tune: “Free Fallin.”
HOME ALONE 2 (1992)
This follow-up to the smash hit is far better than any sequel has a right to be — returning most of the original cast and crew from the 1990 original. The soundtrack includes Petty’s “Christmas All Over Again,” the first tune on the second “Very Special Christmas” compilation album.
WON’T BACK DOWN (2012)
Inner-city-school drama starring Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Holly Hunter and Oscar Isaac, with Petty’s title song and his terrific “Learning to Fly.”
RICKI AND THE FLASH (2015)
Not a great film, but well worth seeing for Meryl Streep’s winning performance as an aging would-be rock star who tries to reconnect with the family she long ago left to pursue her career. It reunites Streep with her “Sophie’s Choice” co-star Kevin Kline, and also features Streep’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer as the couple’s troubled child. Written by Diablo Cody (“Juno,” “Young Adult”), with a surprisingly heartfelt supporting performance from rocker Rick Springfield. And yes, that’s Streep doing her own singing — including “American Girl.”
Along with “Unforgiven” and last year’s “Hostiles,” this is among my favorite Westerns from the modern era. Ed Harris plays a stalwart but brutal lawman working to restore order in a town terrorized by Jeremy Irons’s villain. Co-starring Viggo Mortensen and Renee Zellweger, with Petty’s thematically appropriate “Scare Easy” running amid the closing credits. (Harris, who also wrote and directed this film, sings an earlier credit tune that he co-wrote with the film’s composer, Jeff Beal).
It’s a crowd-pleasing computer-animated fare in which a group of humanoid animals join a singing competition. The strong vocal cast includes Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth McFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton and Jennifer Hudson. Petty tune: “Stay with Me.”
THE POSTMAN (1997)
Sadly, no Petty tunes are used in this post-apocalyptic thriller directed by Kevin Costner; but Petty has one of his rare feature-film acting roles as the mayor. Will Patton, Olivia Williams and Giovanni Ribisi star along with Costner and Petty.
SHE’S THE ONE (1996)
Not an especially revered film, this is nonetheless the ultimate Tom Petty feature, since his ninth studio album — with the same title — pretty much comprises the entire soundtrack. “She’s the One” is a dramedy written and directed by Edward Burns; cast features Burns, Jennifer Aniston, John Mahoney and Cameron Diaz.
The Uptown Music Collective show, entitled “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” plays April 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the CAC. Tickets are $20 at the door, $15 in advance.