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culture

Reel Toronto: Kick-Ass

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.
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Kick-Ass does so many things right (conceding it’s an acquired taste!) that we at Reel Toronto feel bad picking on the one thing it does wrong: pretending Toronto is New York.
In fairness to the filmmakers, you’d never guess this movie was made for only thirty-five million dollars. In addition to using Toronto they shot a lot in London, England, making it awfully hard to to tell what was shot where at times.


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The opening shot is a beaut, panning down from this obviously-it’s-New-York skyline…
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…to this dude, very clearly standing on top of the golden RBC building, at Wellington and Bay.
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When it cuts to the crowd cheering below, you can even see Old City Hall up the street.

In an easy-to-spot early scene, several of the characters go to check out a movie at the Scotiabank, with its very distinctive escalator visible here.

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One of the key scenes is Kick-Ass taking on a bunch of bad dudes outside a doughnut shop. Yeah, that’d be the Dip ‘n Sip out on Kingston Road.
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Speaking of doughnut shops, it is true that there are now Tim Hortons outlets in Manhattan, but not this one. After spending hours we’ll never get back scouring Google Maps, we concluded that this is the one on Richmond, just west of University.

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Here we have a great scene where Kick-Ass and his new pal, Red Mist, go cruising through Manhattan in the Mistmobile, and there’s a later drive with Hit Girl as well. There are several shots of the real Times Square but after a second you clue in that the majority of shots are on the Yonge-Dundas strip. Hey, ain’t that the Eaton Centre?
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And Pier One Imports?
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And the Dundas Square Hard Rock?
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And both Sam the Record Man and HMV? Watch out the window, and watch the reflections on the windshield, and you’ll also see Winners, Roots, Payless Shoes, and other non-NYC stores.
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The school the kids attend is just out of town, at Hamilton’s Sir Winston Churchill S.S..
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Also in Hamilton is this parking lot in which Kick-Ass gets his ass kicked. It’s just off Main Street, on a stretch that gets used for a lot of shoots.
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We were sure this bowling alley had to be here but, amazingly, it’s the All Star Lanes in London.
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But, back to Toronto, Kick-Ass’s pals get lured into a trap at this remote location, out on Front Street East. You can see the shuttered Canary Grill as well as the skyline, hanging in the background.
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Speaking of the skyline, you get a lovely view of the financial district when Kick-Ass runs on a rooftop, testing his jumping prowess, or lack thereof.
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And how about the finale? Kick-Ass and Hit Girl take a jet pack ride through a “New York” that includes Roy Thomson Hall…
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…and Queen’s Park, as they cruise up the length of University Avenue. Obviously Torontonians go, “Hey, that’s Queen Park!” but don’t you figure anyone who has ever been to or lived in New York thinks, “Hey, I don’t remember seeing a huge building like that…yeah, I think I’d remember it”?


UPDATE: OCTOBER 4, 2013: We previously added in the comments, but not to the actual article, a shot of the Scotiabank theatre after several commenters correctly noted the omission. Thanks to everyone for pointing out, it’s there now.

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