Reel Toronto: Three to Tango
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Reel Toronto: Three to Tango

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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Remember the 1990s? This was an era in which producers thought the cast of Friends could headline movies, comedies frequently revolved around straight men mistaken for homosexuals despite being in love with the female lead, and, of course, there was a revival of swing music. Three to Tango taps into the zeitgeist of the era, combining all these elements, not afraid to share supporting cast members and a soundtrack with Swingers. Swingers, of course, is far superior and was shot in LA and Vegas, baby. Three to Tango is set in Chicago, but it wasn’t filmed there, folks.


We tried not to hate Three to Tango because it includes Toronto’s own Neve Campbell, but come on. Really, stop us if you’ve heard this plot before: Matthew Perry and Oliver Platt are architects and get a gig working for Dylan McDermott, who is dating Neve Campbell. Perry falls for Campbell, but she thinks he’s gay. Even crazier, Oliver Platt’s character is gay! Will our hero ever win the girl’s heart? Comedy ensues.
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Our two architectural heroes are hired to restore Chicago’s fictional “Telford Building.” It’s actually the very lovely Ontario Government Building at The Ex, since reclaimed as the Liberty Grand. We see it from the bottom…
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…the top…
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…and even inserted, via CGI, into Chicago’s waterfront.
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Here’s Perry taking a bus ride along Lakeshore Boulevard.
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Lookee here—you can even see the Lancaster Bomber by Ontario Place outside the window. (It’s since been moved up to Downsview’s Aerospace Museum.) That’s right, working for Reel Toronto involves watching not just horrible movies, but the backgrounds of horrible movies.
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Chandler’s Perry’s oh-so boho office is located in the Distillery District.
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Campbell tries to hook Perry up with a football-playing ex-boyfriend and they congregate in the Flatiron Building‘s pub, now part of the Firkin chain.
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Then the two play football in Berczy Park. You can even see just a bit of the trompe l’oeil here.
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After a romantic run through the rain, the couple-to-be (oh, did we ruin the ending??) ends up outside…
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…and then inside the photogenic-but-defunct Canary Grill.
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In fact, the movie’s final shot is a romantic, CGI-enhanced shot of the Canary that does the old girl proud.
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They have another romantic encounter in Chintaown, which is apparently in the part of Chicago where the restaurants tout their LLBO credentials.
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Pulling back further reveals they’re near the Bright Pearl, on Spadina.
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The finale takes place in the historic lobby…
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…and main theatre of the lovely Winter Garden. A proud moment for Toronto history.

CORRECTION: JUNE 8, 2010 This article originally misidentified one of Three To Tango‘s lead actors as Dermot Mulroney; the character of Charles Newman was actually played by Dylan McDermott.

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