The only film (that we know of) to inspire its own online religion (Dudeism; a.k.a. The Church of Latter-Day Dude), The Big Lebowski is a Raymond Chandler detective story riff filtered through the surrealist slapstick lens of the Coen Brothers.
There’s mistaken identity, kidnapping, the, um, adult entertainment industry, German nihilists and Malibu mansions. In a word: L.A.
Yet, considering its iconic La-la Land setting, the film’s most memorable location is the late, great Hollywood Star Lanes bowling alley.
The building has since been torn down and replaced by an elementary school, but you can still commune with your inner Dudeness at Lucky Strike, the pin palace at the Hollywood & Highland Center, home of the Oscars, where many of the original lane’s neon signs and retro décor now abide.
Photo by Lorne Resnick
Forks, Washington, was just a single-stoplight mill town and occasional angler’s destination tucked into the mist-veiled forests of the Pacific Northwest. That is, until a certain sparkly vampire took up residence, first in print, and then on screen (after author Stephenie Meyer Googled for the most sun-deprived town in America).
Today, it’s one of the fastest-growing tourism destinations on the continent, attracting throngs of Twilight Saga groupies of all ages hungering for the places that inspired the books and films.
These hotspots include the Miller Tree Inn (the unofficial vampire family HQ) to the wood-framed house of the local school teacher, promoted near and far as the home of protagonist Bella Swan. The biggest secret of all? The movies were filmed well north and south of here—in B.C. and Oregon—after both dangled sweeter tax breaks.
Photo by Véronique da Silva
Few films show their affection for New York City as unabashedly as Ghostbusters. Yes, Ghostbusters.
From its opening scene—the hilarious haunting of the New York Public Library—to the terrifying foot chase through Central Park to the Hook and Ladder 8 fire station on the Lower West Side that stood in for Ghostbusters HQ, the comedy was a love letter to the Big Apple.
As Winston Zeddemore declares after roasting the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and saving Manhattan from an ectoplasmic apocalypse, “I love this town.”
Photo by Bobby Fisher
While Montréal has hosted Hollywood film crews as far back as 1974’s The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (based on the novel by local legend Mordecai Richler), the city rarely plays itself, often standing in for everything from modern Manhattan (The Day After Tomorrow) to ancient Sparta (300).
But it’s in films like the Edward Norton/Robert De Niro/Marlon Brando heist flick The Score, which was set as well as shot in La Belle Ville, that the city truly shines.
De Niro’s character, a pulled-from-retirement cat burglar, even owns a cool retro jazz club in Old Montréal— the perfect place to soak up the city’s ambience and plot your own caper.
Photo by Ken Kaminesky
How do you make a movie that captures the hype, glamour and all-in excitement of Las Vegas? You roll the dice on George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and Matt Damon in a Rat Pack-inspired heist flick.
Set largely at the MGM Grand and the Bellagio, with its famed dancing water fountain, Ocean’s Eleven, is like Vegas itself.
It’s a neon-lit fantasy, a gleaming desert oasis promising roulette wheels and slot machines, showgirls and complimentary cocktails, and the belief that, with a little skill and a lot of luck, even you can hit the jackpot.
Photo by Jared Sych
Random acts of Hollywood shoot-’em-ups aside, the big-screen remake of Miami Vice is a slick neon nightclub of a movie that begs you to slick back your hair, slip into a linen suit and experience the city like a suave, swaggering native.
Whether that means racing speedboats across Biscayne Bay like Colin Farrell’s Crockett, cruising the Florida Keys in an Italian convertible like Jamie Foxx’s Tubbs, or just chilling on the beach with a mojito with a sultry Latin groove as a soundtrack is up to you.
Photo by Tom Clark
Have you checked out a place in your WestJet travels that has been featured in a movie? Share your story in the comments.