American filmmakers are geographically dishonest.
Today I watched a movie that was set in my hometown of Portland, Oregon.
The movie itself sucked, but I had a great deal of fun watching it. It was just exciting to
know exactly where the characters were. However, the movie was edited so that
locations that are actually across town were apparently next to each other. That kind of
takes away some of the believability. When the main character goes underground at the
Convention Center, he surfaces out of a manhole downtown. There is nothing wrong with that,
but the Convention Center and downtown Portland are on opposite sides of the river. Also,
after diving in the Willamette River, one of the characters surfaces at Oregon Falls.
Once again, there is no problem to the average viewer, but as a Portlander, I know that
those falls are UPSTREAM, and there is no way anybody is going to swim from the Hawthorne
Bridge to Oregon City while being chased by police helicopters.
My family and I had the same problem with Free Willy. It is one thing to see a kid
wake up, leave his house on a bike, cross a bridge, and go to the aquarium. However, when
you're an Oregonian, you recognize the house as being in Astoria, the
bridge as being the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, and the aquarium as the Vancouver
Aquarium. This prompts the reaction "How the heck does that happen?" and can potentially
destroy the movie.
I wonder if this is a problem in movies that are set in larger cities like New York or
Los Angeles. I don't know the answer myself, because I have never been to those cities,
but I imagine that filmmakers are less likely to mess with geography, if for no other reason
that many of THEM live in those cities, and they would probably be annoyed at such
geographical blunders. That is not to say that movies set in New York are perfect; there
are only so many exciting locales in any one part of a city.
The moral is clear. If Hollywood shoots a movie in your hometown, be prepared to just
accept the fact that all of the exciting places in your town will somehow teleport within a
few blocks of each other.