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culture

Reel Toronto: On the Line

'Nsync's Lance Bass and Joey Fatone come to town to shoot a failed attempt at a romantic comedy.

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.

2013 07 17ontheline

Oh, we’ve seen our share of terrible pop-star vehicles before. Yeah, 50 Cent gave it a shot and so did Mariah Carey, once upon a time. Very much in the same league is the long-forgotten (until now!) On the Line.

‘Nsync was all the rage with the young ladies back in the day and, in fairness, Justin Timberlake has established some serious cred both as a genuine musical talent and as an actor since then. But then there’s Lance Bass and Joey Fatone, for whom this rather inferior film was produced.

Yes, On the Line takes a totally-still-in-the-closet Bass and throws him into a meet-cute with local gal (by way of Montreal) Emanuelle Chriqui on Chicago’s El Train. After many shenanigans, misunderstandings, and bro-tastic happenings with his pals, Bass eventually finds his lady love again, but to see that you’d have to sit through everything in between.

2013 07 17mickefynns maybe2

Most of the exteriors were actually shot in Chicago, so it’s the interiors you have to watch. Like, this Irish pub the guys hang out at.

2013 07 17mickefynns

It’s where Monsieur Fatone gets to, you know, break out his inner rock star. It’s not a Chi-town haunt, however, but our own Mick E Fynn’s, in its old location on Gerrard Street. (Sorry, Mick E Fynn’s, the previous mention of ‘Nsync means you only get to be the second-most awesome example of clever wordplay in this article.)

2013 07 17sambora

Yeah, when Richie Sambora shows up to lend things some real rock-and-roll cred, you know your movie is on the up and up.

2013 07 17greenwood2

But these dudes have so many boring conversations they can’t all be in the same place. So, sometimes they venture outdoors, as in this baseball game…

2013 07 17greenwood3

…which was shot over in Greenwood Park. (It’s a good thing those are product-placement Pepsi cans and not beer, because we can’t have that in our parks, dammit.)

2013 07 17jarvisci flashback

Anyway, Bass has this guy who doesn’t like him and we learn a bit about that in this flashback, shot over at Jarvis C.I.

2013 07 17nationalpost

The office he works in isn’t just any anonymous office, it’s the newsroom at the National Post, up in Don Mills.

2013 07 17algreen

Because the writers have to give our two leads something they have in common, we find ourselves awash in references to the great Reverend Al Green.

2013 07 17algreen opreahouse

As you can see by the proscenium here, this show is actually at The Opera House.

2013 07 17melindast

The middle of the movie is a big quest to find Chriqui, including this blink-or-you’ll-miss-it shot on Melinda Street, a vista which seems to serve as a street in New York or Chicago in every movie.

2013 07 17goodysdiner

There’s also a series of dates at local restaurants, including the now-defunct Goody’s Diner

2013 07 17lamaquette

La Maquette

2013 07 17lefbank probably

…and we think this was the old Left Bank.

2013 07 17foleysmoothie

We always like it when local cast and crew get involved in these big Hollywood blockbusters and, hey, here’s Dave Foley! He’s, um, making smoothies!

2013 07 17credits partay

Al Green returns for the finale: a big dance party out on King Street.

2013 07 17roythomson

Lookie, you can even see Roy Thomson Hall back there!

2013 07 17timberlake cameo

And in case you’re wondering, JT and Chris Kirkpatrick appear in a little cameo at the end (as for JC Chavez, who knows? Who cares?) but, again, you’d have to watch other parts of the movie to see it.

Take our word that it’s not worth it. The dear, departed Roger Ebert was darned near charitable in his 1-star review of the film (amusingly, he compared it to the nearly-as-terrible Serendipity, which was also shot here). The great critic was never a fan of films with “Idiot Plots,” in which a series of ridiculous problems would be easily resolved if only the characters weren’t idiots.

2013 07 17joeylance

On the Line is such a movie. “An agonizingly creaky movie that laboriously plods through a plot so contrived that the only thing real about it is its length.” Later he says, viewers find themselves “in the grip of a power greater than ourselves—Hollywood’s determination to make films at the level of remedial reading.” And to think, they couldn’t have done it without Toronto. You’re welcome, Hollywood.

CORRECTION: July 22, 2013, 2:45 PM This post originally said that On the Line shot a scene at Mick E Flynn’s, on Carlton Street. In fact, when the movie was being made, Mick E Flynn’s was located on Gerrard Street.

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