Seeing new movies in the theater may entail a very specific set of snacks, but there are no such rules when you watch them at home. In fact, there are so many options for movie food that deciding what to eat after you decide what to watch can be a struggle. So here is a small guide to some potential pairings of recent movies and takeout places in the Champaign-Urbana area.
“First Reformed” and Merry Ann’s Diner
Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed” is one of the most astonishingly depressing movies in recent memory, dealing with both the commoditization of religion and the threat of global warming. But that does not mean you cannot enjoy yourself while watching it. There is no better way to watch a movie about the death of old, spiritual America than with some diner food, as potent a symbol of Americana as still exists.
Merry Ann’s Diner offers a selection of classic American food and, unlike the diner featured in the film, absolutely no repulsive businessmen who will bother you. No matter if you go for one of their burgers or if you bring some of their breakfast home, you can rest easy knowing that you are still living healthier than the film’s main character — who comes close to drinking himself to death. In comparison, a little pie does not matter that much.
Location: 701 S. Gregory St., Urbana
“20th Century Women” and Windy City Express
Mike Mills’ criminally underrated “20th Century Women” is a cinematic full-course meal in its own right. It bounces between comedy and tragedy, has a voice-over that leaps ahead decades to predict characters’ deaths, and even throws in some Benny Hill-esque fast-motion. It is indulgent but it works, and that gives you an opening to go similarly indulgent when eating during it.
Windy City Express has about as many options as “Women” has editing tricks, and in both cases, they all will work perfectly for you. It even works thematically with “Women” as well. All of the film’s characters are slightly lost, drifting between different setting and time periods and the experience of eating great Chicago food outside of Chicago, all while watching a movie set in 1979 California, will help you get into that adrift mindset.
Location: 410 N. Race St., Urbana
“Logan Lucky”/“Unsane” and Vinny’s by the Slice and More
Since he came out of retirement, Steven Soderbergh has made two genre exercises that only aim to give the viewer what they want: heist-movie silliness in “Logan Lucky” and horror-movie chills in “Unsane.” That kind of unpretentious attitude deserves similarly unpretentious food, and Vinny’s by the Slice and More offers just that.
Much like Soderbergh, Vinny’s is back and better than ever after a break and relocation. They craft New York-style pizza slices much the same way as Soderbergh crafts his movies, creating a pitch-perfect imitation of their influences that is exactly as enjoyable as what came before it. The pizza will work as both a supplement to the comfort-food charms of “Logan Lucky” and a stress release as “Unsane” builds in intensity.
Location: 50 E. Green St., Champaign