Sunday, February 08, 2009

He's Just Not That Into Baltimore



My wife dragged me kicking and screaming to see He’s Just Not That Into You this weekend. I actually don’t mind chick flicks, especially when they star Scarlett Johansson as a voluptuously predatory (to use a phrase from the WaPo review) aspiring singer/yoga instructor that sets her sights on a married Bradley Cooper (whom I am still so gay for). As a bonus, the movie is ostensibly set in Baltimore, but it’s clear that a vast majority of the film was shot on a Hollywood soundstage.

They tried to slip a few Bawlmer sights in when they could. One of the extravagantly trendy apartments these yuppies live in had a clear view of the Domino Sugar sign. Another window looked out over that waterfront high-rise building that looks like a spaceship landed on top of it.

The movie has a lot of little snippets where random people dispense relationship horror stories and advice. One had a guy standing on the Fells Point dock with the fireboat behind him. That said Baltimore to me. Another establishing shot had some characters walking down Thames (and it took me a few years to learn that ‘Thames’ rhymes with ‘James’ and starts like ‘Thane’) and walk into a bar that looks like it could be Coopers but had some other name in the movie. A few outdoor scenes were clearly shot on the marbled stepped streets of Baltimore, but others just screamed back lot.

The Baltimore Sun has a great article explaining that Baltimore was originally going to have a bigger part, but the budget wouldn’t allow that much location shooting or clearances. I guess Jennifer Anniston and Ben Affleck’s salaries chewed all that up.

Even the product placements were all over the map. For example, when Bradley starts hitting on ScarJo in the grocery store, he’s buying a six pack of Clipper City beer, but they walk outside and its some generic grocery store name that I’ve never heard of. The group of girls that the guys just aren’t into all work at World Spice Company, which at least acknowledges Baltimore’s heritage, but it just seems odd not to hear mention of McCormick.

At least it is nice to see Baltimore recognized as a real place. For a lot of movies that are set in Washington, DC, the film crews do a bunch of establishing shots of the monuments and then move up the B-W Parkway to film street scenes in cheaper and simpler Baltimore.

So Drew, Jennifer, and Scarlett, next time you film a movie set in Baltimore send more than the second unit. I’d be glad to show you around. Just leave Ben, Justin, and Kevin behind. But bring Bradley.

BlatantCommentWhoring™:
How much of city should a movie show?

16 comments:

Read/Think/Live said...

I can watch a movie without obsessing about the locale. Not so my husband. If it's not made clear at the outset what city the movie is set in, he will be completely distracted from the story until he is satisfied that he knows. In his ideal world, all movies would be set in New York. If a movie is set in another city from the Big Apple, they better show the name of the city in big letters, preferably during the opening credits.

2fs said...

I think the movie should show more of Scarlett Johansson. Beyond that, I don't really care what city it's in...

Actually, it probably makes a difference how familiar you are with the city and how often the city serves as a setting for films, TV, etc. If you live in New York or LA or the like, you've long since given up on irrealities like something 8 miles away being presented as if it's around the block...but if you live in Milwaukee, you're probably either amused or annoyed when in the Blues Brothers movie, the unfinished freeway ramp the guy drives off of was actually in Milwaukee even though he lands in Chicago (quite a long trip...).

(Oh - I used to be "2fs" - new website, new associated ID...)

yellojkt said...

There are some DC movies that have serious continuity errors. I think Wesley Snipes jumps over the fence of the White House and runs down a residential neighborhood. Can't happen.

yellojkt said...

kb,
One of the best New York vacations we had was going to all the locations Serendipity was shot at. It was remarkably realistic as everything was in walking distance.

2fs,
The new link is working fine.

baltimorediary said...

Yeh, I'm a little crazy with the location stuff, watching backgrounds for clues and picking on geographical continuity problems when people go running around the New York Metro area, or Baltimore.

I remember reading recently that the interior scenes with the window views of the Sugar House and the hotel were actually sets with a cyclorama behind the windows.

The Girl From Park Heights said...

I had no intention of seeing this drab movie but just foudn out it was filmed in Bmore. So I'll put it on my rental list. Just to see what they did with it.

yellojkt said...

The movie's really not too bad. The website has a cute bit called 10 Chick Flick cliches that aren't in this movie.

Cedar said...

Have you ever read the Tess Monaghan series of PI novels by Laura Lippman? I highly recommend them--well written, funny, insightful, blah blah. They also take place in Baltimore, with the city playing an enourmous role; it's as much as character as LA in Chandler or Mosley's work; she drinks at the Brass Elephant, she eats Utz potato chips, and there's a huge nunmber of other landmarks my shallow knowledge of the city doesn't allow me to remember. I don't think the books would be nearly as good if they took place in another city, or in generic-land.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

All Pittsburgh movies simply show the PPG building. The worst one though was before it was built and that was Flashdance. Horrible mockery of the 'Burgh

VE said...

You mean to say Baltimore is a real city? Oh...I thought it was like Bedford Falls...

yellojkt said...

Cedar,
I've read a couple of Laura Lippman's books and I intend to read more. She went to school in Columbia and had one of the same teachers as my son.

VE,
Only if Bedford Falls were the Nation's leader in heroin addiction and STDs.

Flasshe said...

"Denver" movies tend to make it look like there are mountains in the middle of downtown, instead of 50 miles away.

Although I'm too lazy right now to think of examples to back up this supposition.

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