Friends With Benefits | 2011
OK, the high-concept storyline summed up in the title isn't the most original, but as a rom-com, it at least has some smart com to go with the rom.
And it’s knowing enough to include a running location gag about a soppy romance on TV (starring unbilled Jason Segel and Rashida Jones) being set in New York while obviously filmed in Los Angeles. Just what happens in scenes of Friends With Benefits, in fact.
There's a cheeky bit of misdirection – and a couple of cameo appearances – in the opening scene, as successful blogger Dylan Harper (Justin Timberlake) and headhunter Jamie Rellis (Mila Kunis) break up. Though not with each other.
Dylan is getting dumped by Kayla (Emma Stone) before a John Mayer concert at the famous Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Boulevard at El Centro in Los Angeles. Passing fans of Mayer, thinking they'd stumbled across a secret gig, were miffed to find the illuminated marquee was nothing more than a bit of Movieland set dressing.
Meanwhile in New York, Jamie is going through pretty much the same experience, missing out on a showing of Pretty Woman, with Quincy (Andy Samberg) at, now closed, Big Cinemas, 239 East 59th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, on the East Side near the Roosevelt Island Tram Station.
Paths are set to cross as Dylan responds to a job offer from Jamie and is soon winging his way across the continent to the East Coast. Apparently.
The 'Newark Airport' scene, with Jamie somehow ending up stuck on the the luggage carousel, was filmed in the Tom Bradley Terminal of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) – as was the later scene of Dylan and his trouserless father at the airport cafe.
We're soon in the real Big Apple, but the trickery hasn't quite stopped. When Dylan toddles along for the Art Director interview, it seems that GQ magazine operates out of the Associated Press Building, 50 Rockefeller Plaza, the pedestrianised stretch between West 50th and West 51st Streets. Never mind – Isamu Noguchi's stainless steel bas relief sculpture, News, looks stunning.
With the job in the bag, Jamie takes the naive West Coaster off to Brooklyn for a celebratory drink at a mysterious alfresco bar on the Fulton Ferry Pier, beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, where Dylan has a strange contretemps with snowboarder Shaun White.
Jamie is soon taking Dylan up to her special rooftop, to show him stunning, non-Seinfield views of the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings. The quirky, angular shape instantly reveals this to be the roof of 101 Park Avenue – more usually seen from ground level in movies such as The Avengers and Gremlins 2. Don't try to follow the pair. Apart from the trespassing issue, the 'secret' entrance through which the pair sneak to reach the roof was filmed in downtown Los Angeles.
It's all going well for Dylan, who is set up in a swanky new apartment at 217-219 West Broadway, between White Street and Franklin Street. It's opposite Franklin Street subway station entrance (seen later, when Dylan tells Jamie he's got her a ticket to LA), and just a few yards from the little fire station from Ghostbusters, and from Will Smith's apartment in Hitch.
For a magazine job, it seems surprisingly laid back, as Dylan pops out for a bite of lunch with Jamie at Cafe Habana, 17 Prince Street and Elizabeth Street, in the clumsily-named NoLita (north of Little Italy) district, where they reveal to each other that they're both regarded as emotionally 'unavailable'.
Bonding as best buddies, the pair hoot at the rom-com cliches on TV, as LA's distinctive Union Station is unconvincingly passed off as New York's Grand Central – just as in Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor, and probably many, many more.
The central plot device kicks in as Dylan and Jamie opt for a bout of no-emotions, no-commitment sex.
Next day, sports writer Tommy Bollinger (Woody Harrelson) justifiably pooh-poohs the concept of no-strings sex to Dylan during a basketball game at North Cove, the yacht marina down in Battery Park City – another location featured in Hitch, as well as in Martin Scorsese's Wolf Of Wall Street.
It's here Tommy casually slips into a speedboat and heads off to his New Jersey home.
Dylan and Jamie agree to end their experiment and go back to the chore of meeting-and-dating as they walk by the familiar fountain on Bethesda Terrace in Central Park. Although Dylan strikes out with a woman engrossed in The Notebook, who turns out to be married, Jamie scores with a sensitive oncologist she spots dreamily gazing at the park's greenery.
She enjoys a romantic date with Stares-At-Trees (Bryan Greenberg) at Jacques 1534 Restaurant, 20 Prince Street, between Elizabeth Street and Mott Street, where she informs him of her 'five date rule'. We all know what happens when girls date sweet, sensitive guys in New York and, sure enough, after that special fifth date, Mr Oncologist is caught sneaking away from Jamie's apartment, 235 Elizabeth Street at Prince Street, just a few doors north of Cafe Habana.
This is when Dylan takes Jamie over to the West Coast to stay with his family in their swish Malibu beach house – cue aerial views of LA landmarks the Griffith Observatory and Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
Dylan and Jamie sit cutely within the 'O' of the Hollywood Sign on Mount Lee, but I can't emphasise enough that this really is a bad idea. As you will see, the sign is not only extremely difficult to get to, but trespassing is seriously discouraged. Don't even think about it. Locals are even up in arms about sightseers who simply drive up to get a closer view of the sign.
The waterside restaurant, where the encroaching Alzheimer's of Dylan’s father (Richard Jenkins) becomes more apparent, was filmed not in Malibu but south of the airport at yacht-filled Marina del Rey.
Determined to keep the important emotional distance, things inevitably get fractious and Jamie heads back to New York. She's given a good talking-to by her mother Lorna (Patricia Clarkson) on the rocks fringing the lake in Central Park, worn smooth by generations of actors being positioned in front of the photogenic Central Park South skyline.
Dylan gets a similar pep talk from his dad at the airport which is as we've seen, not 'Newark' but Los Angeles International.
There's no M Night Shyamalan twist, so it's hardly a spoiler to reveal that Dylan and Jamie finally get their big reconciliation scene in the real Grand Central Station (the one without palm trees), before nipping out for their first official 'date' at Pershing Square Cafe, 90 East 42nd Street directly opposite Grand Central’s entrance, beneath the viaduct where The Avengers' climactic battle supposedly takes place.