#464 When characters in movies visit a place you know

What a trip.

It’s always a big moment when the flickering screen features one of these special scenes:

1. The Hometown Spotlight. This is when the characters come visit the city you live in. Nope, don’t matter if it’s terrorists fleeing the country, teen lovers filling gas on a road trip, or Batman batflying around the world to kidnap someone from a glass building. All that matters is that you get a little connection with the flick and feel proud your local spot is on display. (Note: Hometown Spotlight may not apply in New York, L.A., or London.)

2. The Local Understudy. Here’s when you spot your hometown in the movie, but it’s playing the part of another city. Sure, they tried to fool you with the yellow New York taxi cabs or a couple skyline shots, but you spotted your city hall and a local newspaper box in the background. If you’re watching the flick in your basement, The Local Understudy sometimes features someone pulling out their cell phone and spending twenty long minutes confirming all the shoot locations.

3. The Suitcase Connection. Here’s when you and the characters share a travel spot. Maybe their budding romance takes them to your Honeymoon hotspot, their college classes take place on your old campus, or their raging, out-of-control Spring Break parties reminds you of your entirely appropriate and tasteful Spring Break parties.

No matter what, when characters in movies visit places you know they suddenly break through the screen and form a tiny little bond with you. Now in addition to the story, you’re suddenly wiretapping into secret memories and moments in your rusty brain. Nostalgia bombs go off as you see your old college gym and remember the heartbreak of getting cut from the junior team… smiles curl when Buddy the Elf gets a job where you once held hands with a young love on a chilly night … and hearts twist over forgotten trips as you relive old moments with friends from your past…


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127 thoughts on “#464 When characters in movies visit a place you know

  1. “DAAAAAD!!” *smacks glass*
    Oh, Buddy.

    I end up doing the opposite; visit a city and think, “OMG they filmed _______ here!” or “Hey isn’t that scene in _______ from here?!”

    The closest I believe I’ve come to a true #465 – 1 is seeing an America’s Funniest Home Videos episode of some guy outside one of the dorms of my alma mater. He was skateboarding on some stair rails … I’ll let you guess how it ended.

    I’ve had a couple run-ins with #465 – 2, too.

    Laurel, your mom seems like quite a fighter! All the best to you both.

    1. Btw, jdurley, I guess “Using butter instead of nothing” didn’t make the cut for #464 … we’ll see if Nutella makes it for tomorrow. Hehe

      1. LOL, ya, I’m really disappointed, but this entry is pretty good too, I guess… Even without any cow-related products. Go Nutella!

  2. I’m a Long Islander, they’ve filmed lots of movies here, but I can’t recall many of them.

    If anyone remembers Weird Al Yankovic’s movie “UHF,” 98% of it was shot in Tulsa, OK and most of the landmarks are still there, save for the tv station.

  3. The Wrestler had scenes filmed in my hometown, the ever so lovely (not) Garfield, NJ. When I saw it in the theater at Chelsea Cinemas, I got so nostalgic I screamed “hey, that’s where I’m from.” Lower Manhattan was not impressed. Still great post.

  4. “Mean Girls” was supposed to be set in my hometown high school (Evanston, IL). The funny thing is, the high school was more based off of our rival high school, and the shopping mall they went to was supposed to be an outdoor shopping center, haha!!

    1. Mean Girls was filmed at Etobicoke C.I., about a three wood from my house.

      Well, not MY three wood.

  5. One of my favorite moments is at the beginning of Tommy Boy, when Chris Farley’s character is on his college campus and taking the exams… anyone who is familar with Marquette University (which his exam says, and he is wearing his actual rugby jacket from when he attended the school) would know that the college campus he is on, is in fact not Marquette… while us Warriors/Golden Eagles are sad to see the misrepresentation, we are still always exstatic to see the nod to our amazing school!

  6. I have never seen my town in a movie, but I have read parts of it in detail in a popular novel series. Has anyone read Stephen King’s Dark Tower? He described the mini train at Gage Park VERY acurately.

  7. The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, 1988, was filmed in my hometown. I’ve seen Pippi’s house. For that reason (and plenty others), this movie is in my top 5 favorites. The Orphanage Pippi went to was the Catholic school that belonged to my church!

  8. I live about 30 minutes outside of Branson, MO and when Mr. Shu from Glee mentioned it in two different episodes I felt that sense of joy and pride… even though I don’t live in that city. :D

    1. Dude! I lived in that city (Golden, MO) to be exact two summers working at Kanukuk Kamps. Whenever I hear “Branson, MO” all my former co-workers, now friends, can think of is that ridiculous strip, those weird theaters that only had 1 act & how everyone except us were over 95. At 1st, we were TERRIFIED being in that part of the US, but the town was super nice Nicer than anyone I’ve met anywhere. People were only staring because we stood out like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest. I’m definitely retiring there when I turn 96.

      1. Branson is crazy, for sure. I’ve never seen any of the shows, and the billboards to/from Branson are enough to prevent any desire to do so.

    2. I’ve never seen Glee, but I remember everyone around here flipping out about that. There was also an episode of Gossip Girl when Dan said something like, “It’s Brooklyn … not the Ozarks. No offense to the Ozarks.”


      (I live in Springfield.)

      1. Haha I live in Ozark (soon to be MSU) and I head to both Springfield and Branson all the time. Yeah I agree some of the shows can be… corny… lol. It’s cool that we are so close. :)

    3. They talk about it being in Lima Ohio (however I don’t think Lima Ohio is anywhere near “Northeastern” ohio which is where the regionals take place) Nice nods to Kings Island (What, no love for cedar point???) and a few other ohio references. Still looks like a high school in california though with all that glass. Too cold here for that much.

  9. I believe it was the Sentinel with Kiefer Sutherland, which has much of its action sequences taking place in Bowie, Maryland. I was living in Silver Spring, MD at the time and saw it at the Majestic theater downtown. Everyone in the audience collectively gasped and began to laugh when they realized that the parking garage that Sutherland was speeding through was the garage we had all parked in that evening.

  10. There’s been a couple movies and tv shows that say that they are from my state….but they aren’t. They lie. One tv show was 20 minutes away from where I live now, though.
    I do like to go places and then realize that I’m standing in the exact same spot so and so stood in a movie. :-)

  11. Rob Reiner filmed “Flipped” (September 2010) on my street in Michigan. Too bad I was in PA at the time. I had to give permission for a scene to happen in my backyard. I had to talk on the phone with Castle Rock, and I just about died. Can’t wait to see that movie and see our house. I’m hopping it will add to the market value and maybe we can sell it! Renters for now! http://www.livewithflair.blogspot.com/

  12. I’ve seen a few of the movies that were filmed on my campus and they all sucked, the most memorable being “One Missed Call.”

    What a poor excuse for a film…

  13. This is awesome….being from Cleveland, I have three related movie favorites:
    1. “Air Force One” w/ Harrison Ford – the opening action sequence is supposed to take place in some foreign country ruled by a monarchy…..but it’s really Cleveland. The royal “palace” is actually the home of the Cleveland Orchestra. You can see the campus of Case Western Reserve Univ. in the background.
    2. “The Rocker” w/ Dwight from the Office (can’t think of his real name!) – supposedly set in Cleveland, but there’s this scene where he’s looking out of his bedroom window in a suburban home at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Museum….which is impossible, b/c the Rock Hall is surrounded by industry and not residential areas!!
    3. “Tommy Boy” – supposedly set in Sandusky, which is an hour away from Cleveland. I laugh every time the female character purchases a plane ticket from Sandusky to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, since neither city has a significant commercial airport! Plus, that’s like flying from one extreme end of a metropolitan area to the other :-)

      1. Some shawshank scenes were over in the old State PEn downtown Columbus on spring street before they tore it down.

  14. My hometown is the location of Red Sox spring training. I don’t remember seeing all of the movie (only parts of it) but ‘Fever Pitch’ (2005) was supposed to be shot here.

  15. The movie “One Week” makes stops all across Canada and even though it was less of a surprise that places I knew would be visited… it was still awesome!

    1. Cool! I recently recorded this movie on my DVR, but haven’t gotten around to watching it yet – now I really want to!

  16. I went to Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire where they filmed parts of Jumangi. They left a painting of “Parish Shoes” on one of the buildings.

  17. OK, this is pretty lame, but my niece recently drove down to Florida, and had to take a detour in Georgia for some reason. They ended up going through the town square from the Back to the Future movies. Sorry, I don’t know what town it was, but she was really excited about it!

      1. Oh, I meant it’s lame to post an experience your niece had, and because I couldn’t remember the details very well… It was definitely cool for her!

        1. I wonder if anyone ever goes to the city council meetings in that small town in Georgia, and whenever there is a vote about increasing the budget for city infrastructure and paving the local roads, some smart-ass stands up and replies: “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!”

          If they don’t, someone should!

          1. Wait, isn’t the town square from Back to the Future at Universal Studios? The clock is there and everything…

  18. That’s the main reason I still go watch awful national productions in Brazil. It’s hard to get a glimpse of Rio in American & foreign flicks, and when it does happen it’s normally some fake Christ the Redeemer or, in the glorious days when movie gangsters still ran away to Rio, people partying in some random beach. But most of the national productions are filmed in Rio, and that gives me a chance to see the characters on a first date in my favourite Chinese restaurant, or bumping into a long-lost summer love at the bookstore I used to work at. Truly an amazing feeling. Great post :)

      1. I actually kinda hate twilight ha. I’m just excited that there’s a celebrity in my neighborhood.
        I’m Team Taylor Lautner’s Abs.

          1. Let’s be honest – is there anyone that ISN’T on that team?

            *waves hankerchief at face like a southern belle*

            My, my, my….


            1. Freddo?….Freddo?…. are you alright?

              Folks, step back, we need to give him some air. Looks like he’s having a fairly severe reaction to Taylor Lautner’s abs. Shouldn’t be fatal, but he’ll probably wake up with a headache, Nutella craving and feelings of regret for not going to the gym much lately.


              1. Thanks for that. I’m better now.

                But if that little incident teaches us anything, it’s that Taylor Lautner’s abs should come with a warning label.

                Remember, Taylor… with great power comes great responsibility.

                Back to the nutella.

  19. Davenport, IA is mentioned in both “Tommy Boy” and “Dumb & Dumber”. Plus a little indie movie about baseball named “Sugar” was mostly filmed here too; I hear it got pretty good reviews. Oh, and some really awful movie about an earthquake was filmed hear for Sci-Fi starring the late Britanny Murphy.

  20. How about close to home and the X-Men? Casa Loma in Toronto for some of the shots inside the school and the McLaughlin estates in Oshawa for the school outer views and some of the inside views as well? Every time we see the movies we say “Awesome!”.

  21. I always loved the fact that Rumble in the Bronx with Jackie Chan was, in fact, filmed in Vancouver.

  22. All of the very-fantastic-and-all-too-prematurely-and-tragically-cancelled television show “Veronica Mars” was shot in and around San Diego. Whenever I’ve got friends in town who are fans of the show (and that is to say, friends with good taste in TV shows), I make a point of taking them on a tour showing a lot of the major filming locations from the show.

    Also, a lot of “A Beautiful Mind” was filmed on my college campus while I was there. It was always trippy to walk to class and pass a scene being filmed of Russell Crowe playing “Go” in the quad, surrounded by 50’s era automobiles..

  23. I can totally relate to this! :) I live in a Civil War town, so there’s a few movies based on it, but they definitely never filmed them here.
    sad, but it still counts, right?
    awesome entry!

  24. One of the biggest disappointments I’ve had while watching a movie was when a movie was supposed to take place at my small New England college (it was in the TITLE, for Pete’s sake) and it was filmed at some large university in California. Did no one look that up ahead of time?

    I was raised in Washington, DC, and, I agree, there is nothing greater than seeing your ol’-stomping grounds on the big screen. Or in books as well! (But don’t read the Dan Brown book which is set in DC, though–I’ve been told it’s like he’s never even been there!)

  25. This happened to me a few times, but the best happened in college.

    I was at the campus theater watching a movie one evening. The characters in the film went to a local college to find some people to go a road trip with them. The scene took place in the student activities building, which happened to be the building I was in at that exact moment about 30 feet away from where the actors were, watching the movie.

    The awesome thing was myself and the 15 other people in the theater all realized the weirdness of what was going on about the same time because there was much murmuring and “WTF?” all at once.

  26. I love this. Even though so many films/tv shows are shot in my hometown (Vancouver), I still love seeing places I recognize masquerading as New York/Seattle/Smallville/Caprica/etc. Just started watching Battlestar Gallactica and am amazed at how much of Vancouver I recognize in pretty much every scene not on-board a spaceship. It’s also cool to see them film a movie in your hometown and then actually see the movie later in the theater and say “I saw them film that scene!”

    1. Hey! I’m with you :) They film the tv series Supernatural all over Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. Same when X-files was filmed here…Oh, look, it’s the Britannia Mine building…that’s creepy!! LOL

  27. What a hilarious post! But it’s so true, all of it. It is awesome to spot a familiar place in a movie.

  28. Such a perfect post for today, Taylor Lautner is shooting a new movie “Abudction” at my old high school outside of Pittsburgh. While the movie sounds like it will be less then awesome, I can’t wait to see my old school in the movie! They are even using the schools marching band, dance team and cheerleaders in the movie. I think I’ll call it my “geeky band uniform connection”

  29. Sort of cool: Meet the Parents takes place in Oyster Bay and that’s not too far from me. \o/

  30. Its also awesome when your city is mentioned in a song. I live in Alberta Canada, so it doesnt happen very often and its AWESOME when it does. Actually it’s awesome when any place in Canada is mentioned in a song.

  31. WAIT JUST ONE MINUTE HERE – My hometown IS Los Angeles, and it counts IF you can recognize the area (San Marino is my favorite – every nice upper middle-class house on television is actually right off Huntington Drive).

    And you forgot to mention Honolulu (which was also home for six years), where the main giggle is when someone is on a road right off Waikiki, turns left, and is suddenly on the Windward side of the island or on North Shore.

  32. Not awesome is people who insist on TELLING you every time they see somewhere in a movie or TV show that they’ve been to when they’re not adding anything else of interest.

    “The Eiffel Tower! I’ve been there!”
    “And?………….Oh was that…. was that it? Right. Good. Thanks.”

  33. We had a hometown spotlight here when I was a kid. Some episode of a superman tv show was filmed on a bridge near my hometown. The real bridge was about 30 feet above the water. In the tv show someone was falling from this bridge, but instead of 30 feet, it was modified to appear as though it was hundreds of feet above the water. Awesome.

  34. I love this because almost every show on television is filmed in Santa Clairta, CA. We have been New York, Las Vegas, Maryland, Iraq, Montana, China, Hawaii, Guatemala, Ohio etc etc etc. I love it because thats my home town and it’s fun to see it on the screen all the time. We are the home base for CSI Las Vegas.

  35. The movie “Signs” was filmed in the next town over from me (Doylestown)

    My favorite growing up was the book “Maniac Magee” (by Jerry Spinelli) which was set in a fictional town, but described local parks and zoos that we’d all been to. it made us feel like local celebrities, knowing that everyone was reading about our hang-out spots! Awesome :)

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