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Lan-Oak Lanes stars in When Jeff Tried to Save the World

(along with Jon Heder and Jim O’Heir)

The location for the movie When Jeff Tried to Save the World—Lansing’s Lan-Oak Lanes—is as important a character as Jon Heder, who plays the lead role. (Photo provided)
by Melanie Jongsma

CHICAGO, Ill. (December 5, 2018) – “I spent over two years scouting around 40 bowling alleys around Los Angeles. All were too big or too small, too modern, too expensive. It was not until a trip home to Chicago that I found a location that had me in tears: It was everything I pictured, nearly an exact replica of the concept art I had drawn years previous. The history and the character in the walls of this alley was just unbeatable. Filming in a small midwestern town, surrounded by my childhood friends and family, was a major driving force in creating this film. The community’s generosity and kindness shine through the finished product and it is clear this story has been through the hands and hearts of many.”

This quote is from Kendall Goldberg, Director of When Jeff Tried to Save the World. She’s talking about Lansing’s Lan-Oak Lanes.

Goldberg is a Munster native. She and her crew were here in Lansing in August of 2017 to film the indie film, which stars Jon Heder, of Napoleon Dynamite fame. Jim O’Heir, of the television series Parks and Recreation, plays a supporting role.

Before the film is officially released, it will premiere in Chicago’s Music Box Theater tonight and tomorrow night:

  • Wednesday, December 5
    • 7:15pm – Doors Open
    • 8:15pm – Screening Starts, Q&A to follow (Cast/Crew In Attendance)
  • Thursday, December 6
    • 8:45pm – Doors Open
    • 9:45pm – Screening Starts, Q&A to follow (Cast/Crew In Attendance)

Visit Music Box Theater’s online ticket booth for tickets:

For those who can’t make it to Chicago for the premier, the trailer is available here:

  • Trailer: When Jeff Tried to Save the World

The movie can also be pre-ordered from iTunes at that link.

For those interested in the story of the filming at Lan-Oak Lanes, that story is available here:

For those who want to visit the now-famous set in person, Lan-Oak Lanes is located at 2524 Ridge Road.

For those who just want to see some still shots of scenes featuring Lansing’s Lan-Oak Lanes, photos from Kendall Goldberg’s press kit appear below.

Celebrity has not changed the Lan-Oak Lanes video games who appear in the indie film When Jeff Tried to Save the World. (Photo provided)
You might not recognize the Lan-Oak Lanes wall because of the clever costuming, and because Jon Heder is standing in front of it. (Photo provided)
A true star doesn’t always need to take center stage. In this scene, the Lan-Oak Lanes game room provides the perfect backdrop so that other actors can shine. (Photo provided)
Even the ladies bathroom and the Lan-Oak Lanes vending machines made a cameo appearance in When Jeff Tried to Save the World.

Lan-Oak Lanes is located at 2524 Ridge Road in Lansing, Illinois.


Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.


  1. Looks like a fun movie. I grew up in Lansing, my mom bowled weekly at Lan-Oak Lanes for many years so I was there often. I was even on a summer league for kids a couple of summers. So cool to see my hometown icon in a movie. Can’t wait to see it. Too bad I cannot make it to the premier in Chicago.

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