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.
The Mighty is a bit of a departure for Reel Toronto for a couple of reasons. First, it’s in a genre we don’t see too often—namely, the weepy family movie. Also, it’s set in Cincinnati, which is, perhaps a bit surprisingly, not a city Toronto represents too often, in our recollection.
That said, The Mighty‘s not too bad for a weepy family movie. It’s got a rather eclectic cast, including Sharon Stone, Harry Dean Stanton, and Gena Rowlands. Also, for our money, it’s the second best Toronto film with Kieran Culkin.
So, they do a pretty darned good job hiding Toronto here. It helps when you blend in some nice shots of the Cincy skyline that make you wanna sing, “Baby, if you ever wondered…”.
The primary location is the street where the main characters live, played by Empire Avenue. See, the protagonist is this big kid everyone picks on for being an oaf, and Kieran Culkin has Morquio Syndrome so, dontcha know it, they find each other, forge a friendship, do some stuff involving knights, yada yada yada.
Our Spidey sense makes us think they used number 31 for the main house.
You can’t see it so well here, but they shot most of the school scenes at Danforth Tech. Some other bits were apparently shot out at U of T’s Mississauga campus.
Hey, now here’s a more recognizable location: it’s the ol’ Canary Grill!
Speaking of diners, the interior used for this flashback looks like it’s one of those Wimpy’s Diners. We can’t be certain, but we think it’s the one at Logan and Danforth. And, hey, wait… Is that James Gandolfini?
Yeah, it is!
Speaking of hefty movie stars, hey, is that Meat Loaf? Yeah, it is!
Where we we? Oh, right, down near the Port Lands, right? Here’s the Cherry Street drawbridge which is one of those locations that pops up in movies as diverse as The Incredible Hulk, The Wrong Guy, and A Christmas Story.
You can see it again here…
…and see the Bay and CIBC towers at Bloor in this reverse shot.
Our heroes get chased around a bit, and though it’s framed tightly and cuts quickly, ain’t that a subway entrance?
And a bit more of Yonge Street here, with an appearance by the Silver Rail (not to be confused with either the Brass Rail or the Silver Snail). It’s gone now, of course, and the location is home to Buffalo.
They also get chased around here, at this fall fair. Since you probably haven’t seen it since you were a kid, and since you’ve probably only ever seen it in the summer, during the day, it might take you a sec to realize it’s Centreville, on Centre Island. You can see the ol’ carousel…
…the lagoon where they keep the bumper boats…
…and those cool jalopies you could kinda, sorta drive a bit. Remember those? Hellz, yeah!
They even got the little green train going on!
There are a few scenes that feature this highway-heavy location that looks like it’s on Villiers Street, across from where the Gardiner joins the DVP.
Yup, here’s Gillian Anderson at the same location, and you can see this building behind her.
This back alley is actually St. Enoch Square, which is, as far as we know, the most overly pretentious name within the entire city limits. It’s basically a back alley kinda near Massey Hall.
Uh, is that actually graffiti for ’90s indie band the Age of Electric? Wow, random…
At the other end of the architectural spectrum is this visit to Knox College.
And if you have a movie with a sick kid, you’re eventually going to have some hospital scenes, right? These were shot at Toronto Western.
It’s a safe bet that if you’re reading this column you’re probably a few years beyond the demographic at which The Mighty is aimed. That’s okay, we liked it well enough for our purposes, and you might too.