Utah has long been at the tip-top of my traveling bucket list, but it’s not Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park or the Bonneville Salt Flats that I’m dying to see. No, I want to visit the Beehive State because two of my favorite films of all time were shot there – “Footloose” and “Drive Me Crazy.” Though the former is an iconic ‘80s classic, the latter is far lesser-known. Based upon the 1996 book “How I Created My Perfect Prom Date” by Todd Strasser, the teen-centric rom-com was released in 1999 to lukewarm reviews but has since become something of a sleeper hit. The film may boast a paltry 53% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, but those who love it, love it.
The storyline is one that has been told a thousand times onscreen, mostly in productions of the Hallmark Christmas movie variety. Upon learning that her crush, basketball star Brad Selden (Gabriel Carpenter), has asked another to the upcoming Centennial dance, queen of school spirit Nicole Maris (Melissa Joan Hart) hatches a plan with her next-door neighbor/former childhood best friend, the kindhearted and newly-dumped rebel Chase Hammond (Adrian Grenier), to fake a relationship and attend the dance together in the hopes of winning their exes back. In the midst of their scheme, though, the faux couple, of course, falls in love for real.
Originally named “Next To You” (after the studio nixed the appalling alternative “Girl Gives Birth to Own Prom Date”), the movie was retitled postproduction to coincide with the release of rising pop star Britney Spears’ new song “(You Drive Me) Crazy.” Grenier and Hart even appeared in the music video for the tune as part of the promotional tie-in.
Charming through and through, the flick stands out amongst other teen fare of the time thanks to its witty script, the undeniable chemistry between its two leads and its stellar locations. Unlike most romantic comedies, which typically utilize the dazzling lights of New York or the sun-drenched landscape of Los Angeles as backdrops, “Drive Me Crazy” was shot in its entirety in Salt Lake City and its environs. A few local spots featured include the Art Deco masterpiece Ogden High School, which plays Timothy Zonin High, aka Time Zone High, the school at the center of the story. Meteor Burger, where the fake couple hangs out with Nicole’s friends and discusses “The X-Files,” is actually Kirt’s Drive-In in North Ogden. The big Centennial dance celebration at the end of the movie is held in the rotunda of the Utah State Capitol building. And, as first identified by realtor Jacob Barlow of the Exploring with Jacob Barlow website, Brad’s house, where Nicole and Chase attend a party, can be found about 20 miles south of Salt Lake City at 12758 S. Fort St. in Draper. (Please remember this is a private home. Do not trespass or bother the residents or the property in any way.)