For the uninformed, bi-coastal elites, the U.P. is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and it's denizens are Yoopers. I have a long and storied history w/ da UP as wells as many quality Yoopers. Let's clear one ting (no H needed) up right away, da UP should be the Upper Peninsula of Wisconsin, not Michigan. I don't know if we owed Michigan money or what, but it is ridiculous to make it part of Michigan. I have always proposed dat Wisconsin should annex da UP and then change our state capital to Green Bay. I will eventually assemble da perfect drunken mob to make this a reality.
Green Bay would be da last bastion of semi-civiliazation before you hit da forests up Nort (no H needed). I have been up there to ski, party, ski party but also for da purpose our movie spotlights, deer hunting. I have been to a number of deer camps, and yes I did kill several nice bucks if not a turdy pointer. All of that makes me fairly well qualified to talk about Escanaba in da Moonlight, but it goes even deeper. I never had a nickname for the first 30+ years of my life, until my daughter and I moved in to a house in Appleton, WI w/ 6 Yoopers, who all actually were from Escanaba, right across the backyard. Dey were all down working in da paper mills which is shift work so there were always a couple of them on the back deck or inside at the kegerator bar sipping a Lite Beer from Miller. Whenever I got home and poked my head out the back door, I would hear a thunderous "Hey Jimbo, wouldja like a cold one chum?". This was always followed by the mellifluous strains of "Stranglehold" by Sweaty Uncle Teddy, which for some reason they dubbed my theme song. (ain't that right Mike Kwarciany and Billy and Bobby Arts?)
So they named me Uncle Jimbo during one of the many times we were laughing our asses off to South Park. They also marvelled at the fact that my daughter, who was in First Grade, played Euchre. And not just played, but played well and savagely. She had learned on the lap of her Grandfather who is the Gen. Patton of the game. We spent quite a few awesome nights playing cards with a houseful of expatriate Yoopers and all the local neighbor ladies, who they married up as I recall. It would get late and whenever I would propose removing my daughter from the game I would be serenaded by a chorus of "Oh No Jimboooo, let 'er stay eh? C'monnn chum it's only 1230, let me get you a beer and it's her deal."
Now let's get to the movie, Escanaba in da Moonlight was a fun, light-hearted, ridiculous story and I think many Yoopers experienced it like home movies. Of course it was over da top wit some of dat stuff, dontcha' know. But Goddammer eh? Dat's how dey talk. I read a couple of reviews savaging it for portraying Upper Mid -Westerners as ignorant, backwards etc. and then noted that none of those critics had any ties to the area. This was hardly a slap at the culture, it was a triumph of the poor jinxed Buckless Yooper who had never killed one and who had to seal the deal this year or he would be the oldest cherry in his family's storied history.
Jeff Daniels wrote the play that this movie was adapted from and starred and directed in this, and if I ever get a chance to see it done in his Purple Rose Theater in Michigan I would love to. The bulk of the movie takes place in the cabin at deer camp and it would be wonderful to see it live in an intimate setting. Now let's be perfectly frank here this is not My Dinner w/ Andre, it's Escanaba in da Moonlight OK? But even with a perfectly predictable ending and an obligatory "fart power" bit it was still fun to go huntin' wit da Yoopers 'ya know? Especially if you have had the pleasure of knowing a few, and if you haven't you've been cheated. For another fun dose of UP culture there was a Sundance Channel series called Nimrod Nation about the Watersmeet, MI basketball team. Ya der hey, some good folks up Nort.