#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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Photos from: here and here

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

  1. When Public Enemies (with Johnny Depp) was in Milwaukee, I was so mad at myself ’cause I couldn’t find a ride down there to try and become an extra. That would have been so awesome!

  2. There was big buzz for us in Oakville (town outside Toronto) this winter when Daniel Craig and Naiomi Watts came to the local park to shoot “Dreamhouse”. Hasn’t hit theaters yet.

  3. Part of “Road Trip” (that horrible MTV movie with Tom Green) was filmed at the University of Georgia; it was filling in for Syracuse, NY. My roommate and I accidentally walked into the scene where they’re pulling out and someone jumps on the bus. Luckily, they weren’t shooting yet (maybe doing blocking or something?) or they would’ve had some film of us in our Halloween costumes heading out to a party!

  4. there was a scene in the silence of the lambs where it shows clarice driving over a bridge. that’s my hometown, and the bridge is going to be torn down soon.
    and they filmed a movie a couple months ago in my town for a movie called Unstoppable, it had denzel washington.

    Bellaire OH, yeah i know it’s a gross, dirty town, but hey, it’s seen action! :P

  5. my hometown, East Grand Rapids, Michigan was the basis for American Pie. In the movie, they changed the name to East Great Falls. Many restaurants and houses from the movie are real places in EGR

  6. I had the Hometown excitement for about a minute when Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman said she was from Milledgeville, GA. Previously we had been known as the location of the state mental hospital then BAM! also the home of high price hookers. Double AWESOME!

  7. This is so true! I’m from West Virginia and I love seeing my state in movies. I remember spotting my alma mater the “We Are Marshall” movie… not Marshall, but WVU. When the team met, it was really filmed at WVU. I still smile thinking about it!

    What a great site you have! Keep up the great work!

  8. Having grown up in northern California, it was definitely time for a double-take when it became apparent that the TV studio used by Mrs. Doubtfire was that of the actual local station KTVU Oakland. They even kept the logo and everything!

    (It was *extra* trippy when the movie finally aired on television, because it was eventually broadcast *on* KTVU itself.)

  9. I work in Keene, NH, where they shot Jumanji with Robin Williams. It was shot just about a year or two before I started here, and the buzz was still fresh. For the movie they painted an ad on a brick wall, and the ad has been preserved. In one scene you can see the building that my office is in. It is pretty Awesome when the place you are in is kinda famous.

  10. I can so relate to the Hometown Spotlight… except for me it’s homecountry I guess. It’s very rare to hear “Venezuela” in a movie

  11. This may be one of my favorite posts thus far, if only for your mentioning my all time favorite hometown Spotlight, where Batman goes to Hong Kong and hangs out where I would sit and wait for my dad after school. Brilliant :D

  12. “Drop Dead Gorgeous”, a funny dark comedy with young Kirsten Dunst and Brittany Murphy, was filmed in my home state of Minnesota. When I watched it for the first time, I nearly jumped up and cheered when there were shots of the Twin Cities and small town areas. And I laughed when they tried to pass off a local suburban mall for the Mall of America :D

  13. It’s cool when R.L. Stine also mentions Ohio (I mean, I still have my copies of The Beast-the roller coaster at Kings Island). Good Ohio history in that, too.

    I love how in zombieland (don’t worry, not a spoiler) the main character’s from Columbus, Ohio which apparently burned to the ground in the apocalypse. I grin every time I hear them talk about it every time.

    Also, one last thing, Glee. It’s set in Lima, Ohio. I’m loving the ohio references. (Finster actually worked at Kings Island for a summer-again, no love for Cedar point?)

  14. Bumblebee’s been 45 minutes from my house at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Now that right there is AWESOME. 8D

  15. Smallville is filmed within a 5 minute walk from my apartment building, you can look down between two of the skytrain stations and see part of metropolis (and in previous seasons Smallville). The building they used for the exteriors of Smallville high is right next to where I went to College.

    My boyfriend loves to point out landmarks. :P I got super excited when I saw the Art Gallery and Science World in the show Sliders. Gotta love Vancouver!

  16. Not a visit to my hometown, (I live in the Philadelpia suburbs), but M Night Shamalan lives in my town. My dad did cable for him once.

  17. A League of Their Own was filmed in part in the baseball ground in Evansville, IN, where I spent the best two weeks of my life visitng family and America for the first time. I watch it every time it’s on for that one reason.

  18. My heart melted on the last paragraph.
    Holla to Laurel and Nancy…I wish you well.
    And to my “Yellow Monarch Mama-Butterfly”, I love you wherever you fly.

  19. I remember watching 50 First Dates and recognizing the sea life park where Adam Sandler worked as the one we visited on the island of Oahu when I was 8 years old. It was such a cool place and was exactly how it appeared in the movie! This is a great Awesome Thing.

  20. Alternatively, and almost in reverse, I played the Xbox game Fallout 3, which takes place in a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C. Later, my Dad’s job moved us to D.C, which meant that the first time I went on the Metro, I looked through the list of stops thinking to myself: “I’ve been there, and there, and there, and OOH! That’s where those vampires were living!”


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