How is Toronto ‘The Toronto Man’?

Like many Torontonians, I felt tremendous pride when I found out that a movie called “The Man From Toronto” was showing on Netflix. After all, it’s rare for a movie with “Toronto” in the title to be released on a major streaming service, so I went crazy imagining the plot possibilities.

Would it be about a tough hockey player trying to save the city – and its precious ice – from an angry cabal of eco-terrorists who are bent on accelerating global warming? Or maybe a romantic comedy about a love-sick 20-something woman who, after years of searching, finally meets a smart and charming U of T graduate, only to find he’s totally overdone his Bumble profile.

The answer? No, it is not. A quick Google revealed that “The Man From Toronto” was actually an action-comedy starring Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson. Hart plays Teddy Jackson, a hapless gym employee desperately trying to start his own fitness business, and Harrelson plays Toronto’s titular man, a cold-blooded mercenary gifted with information extraction (i.e. torturing people until they tell him things). . They unexpectedly cross paths at an Airbnb and, because of a case of mistaken identity, team up to fight the bad guys and save the world.

Here’s the thing: the movie is primarily set in the United States, which is definitely not Toronto, as the title might suggest. It made me think, How is Toronto “The Toronto Man”? So I watched the movie and developed a superscientific methodology, measuring its Toronto-ness in various categories: locations, the Toronto man, and miscellaneous. Each would be measured on a specialized scale of 10. Quick, let’s get to it.

LOCATIONS

The film takes place in multiple locations, everywhere from Toronto to Virginia, Miami, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC. filmed in GTA, giving it some serious Toronto energy.

At the beginning of the film, when the Toronto man (Harrelson) returns home from a “business trip”, there is a glorious scene of the cityscape, dark clouds overhead, the CN Tower proudly rising. It’s the first time I’ve seen downtown Toronto featured, even proudly, in a major film. Seeing her on screen was both shocking and glorious.

We also meet Teddy Jackson (Hart), who lives in Yorktown, Virginia, a sleepy coastal town with a modest population. But it’s all just movie magic. Yorktown is actually Milton, west of us on Highway 401, once the fastest growing town in all of Canada. Main Street features prominently in the film, the site of car chases and shootings. The clock tower also gets a lot of facetime.

Later in the film, the streets of Washington, DC, look a lot like the intersection between College and University, right at the foot of Queen’s Park. In another scene, set at night, if you squint your eyes tight, you can see Momofuku in the background as an ambulance zooms north at the University.

Verdict: With all of its filming locations in Toronto, “The Man From Toronto” could very well have been set in Toronto. Rating: 9 CN Towers out of 10

THE MAN FROM TORONTO, THE CHARACTER

Harrelson, who is from Texas, is our man from Toronto. When we first meet his character, he’s driving a Dodge Charger through the arid landscape of Utah, wearing a cowboy hat and an all-black outfit. His accent is, um, Woody Harrelson, flat and nasal with a hint of a southern drawl. He doesn’t seem, at least at first, to be a Toronto man.

And it gets worse from there, especially when Woody pronounces the word “Toronto” and commits the cardinal sin of clearly enunciating the second “t”. This is a blatant oversight. In fact, all the characters in the movie forget to drop the second “t”. Did anyone involved in this production see that scene in “Argo”? You know, the one where Ben Affleck teaches the American hostages hiding in the Canadian embassy how to pronounce Toronnor instead of torontO. It’s a clear gift. Come on!

But let’s not jump to conclusions. We need to take a closer look at Harrelson’s character to properly assess his good faith in Toronto. The Toronto man lives outside of downtown, probably on the east end, in a renovated space at the back of an abandoned warehouse. His home interior is Scandinavian chic, with polished white wood throughout. Basically, its converted place is the quintessentially expensive and trendy yuppie hideout in some seedy area, something Toronto Life would put on the cover.

There’s also this: When the Toronto man has just been a hired gun, he dreams of switching careers and opening his own restaurant. Is there anything more Toronto than this??? He also has some tattoos. (Spoiler alert: at the end of the movie, when he opens his own restaurant, the man calls it “Toronto’s”, giving the movie an additional local flair.)

Verdict: Harrelson may not look or speak like someone from Toronto, but his quarters and life aspirations seem to fit the archetype. Rating: 6 Matty Mathesons out of 10

SEVERAL

The word “Toronto” is said 29 times throughout the film, including the post-credits. (Did I sit down and tell that? Yes. Is it important journalistic work? Obviously.) All this name-giving is excellent public relations for the City of Toronto. It’s like Tourism Toronto and Netflix have a marketing baby, except it didn’t cost us anything, which is great. Ideally, audiences around the world hear the word “Toronto” so many times that they unknowingly book a trip here and spend their life savings at Ripley’s Aquarium.

At one point in the film, there is a free close-up of the Toronto Dodge Charger man’s bumper, which reveals an Ontario license plate. Yes, with the unique blue font, small crown and “Yours to Discover” on it. The board is missing one crucial detail, however: a sticker. Woody forgot to renew it? Doesn’t he know that Doug Ford recently did it for free? How could the film’s production team forget such an essential detail in the minutiae of living in modern Ontario?

And finally, in a scene filmed in Milton, Ontario’s parking signs are prominently displayed on the sidewalk: the “P” for “parking” encircled on a rectangular batten, placed on the sidewalk atop a metal pole. The vision can offer viewers a welcome reminder from home or a PTSD attack when remembering their unpaid tickets. It all depends on your relationship with the parking enforcement officer in your neighborhood.

Verdict: Elements of Toronto, big and small, are predominant in the film, making the viewer feel like it could have happened in their backyard. Rating: 7 Drakes out of 10

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