Reel Toronto: Against the Ropes
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Reel Toronto: Against the Ropes

Blood, sweat, and Meg Ryan.

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.


STUDIO EXECUTIVE: I’ve got a great idea: A boxing movie!
UNDERLING: Sounds good, keep the ball rolling!
STUDIO EXECUTIVE: It’s about this underdog, see, and he wins, like, at the end. We’ll even have a big scene where it’s all tense but then one person starts clapping…
UNDERLING: …and then everyone is clapping?! Me likey! But…
STUDIO EXECUTIVE: What? Spit it out?
UNDERLING: It’s been done, hasn’t it?
STUDIO EXECUTIVE: You didn’t let me finish! Did I mention this underdog is managed by a chick?
UNDERLING: A hot chick?
STUDIO EXECUTIVE: Is there any other kind?! Plus, it’s a true story.
UNDERLING: Wow. So, who is the chick?
STUDIO EXECUTIVE: Two words: I say, “America’s Sweetheart,” and you say…
UNDERLING: But didn’t she have terrible plastic surgery and get all weird?
STUDIO EXECUTIVE: No, she looks hot! And she wants to start a new phase of her career, dressing all sexy and stuff, and this is the film to do it! We’ll set it in Cleveland, film it cheaply in Toronto, and I guarantee it will be so good that Wikipedia will never call it a “box office bomb” or mention the controversy over “the poo scene.”
UNDERLING: The poo scene?
STUDIO EXECUTIVE: Don’t ask. Let’s sign some contracts and make sure Meg’s passport is in order. We’re going north!

Surprise, Against the Ropes is not a good movie. It’s a “fictionalized” version of a real story that takes place in Cleveland and, hey, they did shoot some nice exteriors there. Interiors, not so much. The big boxing events take place in what’s supposed to be the old Cleveland Coliseum but there’s no Fortino’s in Cleveland.

No, as you can see from this shot, those are the very distinctive seats at Copps Coliseum.


Arenas being what they are, it’s not always easy to tell where you are when the lights are down. That said, we know they also shot scenes at the CNE (now Ricoh) Coliseum and we suspect its this.


They also shot at the spacious Fort York Armoury, and it could be this bit, which claims to be at the Buffalo Armoury.


Some office scenes, like this, were done at the TD Centre’s Ernst & Young Tower.


Somewhat more visibly, the characters do some good local eating. Here’s Meg Ryan and Kerry Washington having a nosh at the St. Lawrence Market.


And, naturally, they shot in the Distillery District and 420 Front Street East, the empty shell across from the Canary Restaurant. You can see the distinctive brickwork out the window there.


And all the big mucky mucks who don’t wanna let a girl give it a go in a man’s world hang out at this swanky restaurant. Today it’s the Tattoo Rock Parlour, on Queen West, but back in the day it was the Left Bank. It’s hardly as ubiquitous as the Lakeview, but we’ve seen it used a few times before, even hosting Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Against the Ropes earned a surprisingly strong 12 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, buoyed by Roger Ebert’s incongruous 3-star review. The important thing is for our whole city to remind ourselves, we didn’t kill Meg Ryan’s career, we just happened to be around when it all went down. Now, if you’ll pardon us we’re going to go watch When Harry Met Sally. They really filmed in it New York and she’s just as cute as a button!