Due to California Doubling, Hollywood movies in general tend to have palm trees popping up in the background of states where there quite obviously are no palm trees. For example, watch the daytime neighborhood scenes in Halloween (1978) (a movie that takes place in Illinois) and you will see it.
In Knight and Day, Tom Cruise's character seems to hop around different places in Salzburg during his stay there. This is especially apparent in the roof chase sequence, where he starts off in Altstadt centre on on the roof of the Residenz* (with several faculty buildings of Salzburg University seemingly standing in as his hotel building) to the south of the river Salzach, and ends up on the northern bank near the foot of the Kapuzinerberg mountain before falling off and plunging into the aforementioned river (and not smashing head-first into the two-lane street, promenade and gravel bank that are actually there).
Reviews of the low-budget Atlas Shrugged movie reveled in poking fun at the movie's depiction of Wisconsin. The land of cheese has a surprising number of cacti.
In Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella's voice beckons him to travel to Boston and Chisholm, Minnesota, but aside from Huntington Avenue and Fenway Park, the entire movie was shot within a 50 mile radius of the Iowa farm that served as his home, conveniently within the rugged Driftless Area of the midwest, which filled in for the Appalachian Mountains.
In the beginning of The Wild Stallion, Miranda Cosgrove's character narrates that she grew up in Cleveland, with an aerial view of a city that is obviously Boston, with shots of the Back Bay, the New England Aquarium, and the Tobin Bridge.
By contrast, Cedar Rapids was filmed in Ann Arbor, Michigan instead of the titular city.
Leap Year, apart from its appalling Oireland setting, uses atrocious geography. Anna's flight from Boston to Dublin is diverted to Wales due to weather, although London is a major international hub and a much more obvious place in which to divert the plane. This is also ignoring other Irish airports, such as Cork or Shannon. Then, she gets a ferry from Wales to Cork, but stopping in Dingle due to weather — Dingle being on the southwest coast of Ireland and is further west than Cork, ignoring the regular Holyhead-to-Dublin ferry. Dingle is shown as a tiny village when it's actually a moderately-sized town. Then, her journey from Dingle to Dublin passes the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, neither of which would be anywhere near her route.
In Bullitts chase scene, it seems like every time they take a right turn onto a downhill street, there's a beige Volkswagen Beetle parked on the right with its back to the camera, in the same spot every time...
Ethan Hunt in 'Mission: Impossible II'' gets a car and chases the girl, leaving the Spanish city of Seville and suddenly reaching some cliffs that might be anywhere but near Seville. Not the movie's only mistake about Spain.
Much of the film 21, taking place at MIT in Cambridge, MA, was shot directly across the Charles River on Boston University's campus. In an interesting twist on the Television Geography trope, BU students enjoyed the movie more because of the familiar locales, despite its use as another university's campus.
MIT's administration actually banned the filming of movies on campus after the crew of Good Will Hunting displayed an annoying tendency to randomly close important parts of the school. Given that most of the school didn't have a particularly good opinion of the quality of 21, it's probably best for the moviemakers that they didn't try it.
The Perfect Storm is based on a true story of fisherman from Gloucester, MA. The bar they frequent, The Crow's Nest, is shown right next to the pier on Harbor Loop. The actual Crow's Nest is about a half mile away, across the street from a wharf for a whale watch business.
The movie ends with a scene at the real St. Ann's church. The priest and deacon on the alter were current to the movie's filming (1999), but weren't at the church when the film takes place (1991). Neither was the choir.
10 Things I Hate About You is nominally set in Seattle, but the high school that all of the main characters go to is easily recognizable as Stadium High School (incredibly distinctive)... in Tacoma, about a half-hour's drive away. Several other distinctive locations are also in Tacoma.
And, every Western Washingtonian knows you don't wear tube tops and halter tops during the school year. It's just too dang cold! It'd be believable if the show was set in late July or August.....Rule of Sexy?
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is set in Gunnison, Colorado, a small mountain town of about 5,500 people. The establishing shot of the town is much, much larger than that, as they shot it in Canada at a town with 15x its population.
Furthermore, Gunnison, Colorado is a semi-arid climate with sagebrush as the predominate vegetation, but Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem shows massive temperate rainforest trees with moss hanging from the branches. And the storm sewer system is vastly oversized. Humans, aliens, and even a dog use the sewer system like an underground tunnel. Unless it's a CDOT box culvert bridging a creek, the largest possible sewer pipe is maybe 12 or 18 inches in Gunnison.
In a rare example of a film actually being shot in the location it's set in, Almost Famous was filmed in San Diego, California, and several recognizable local landmarks and businesses are visible throughout the movie — although, as the film was shot in 2000 and set in 1971, some of the businesses shown had not yet been established, and others operating at the time that had closed since 1971 were not present.
Annapolis, set at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, was rather obviously not filmed there.
Averted in Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, which was both filmed and set in Vancouver. It seems odd that the authorities in Canada would allow Americans to run around blowing crap up and treating the city as a shooting gallery, but those who saw Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever and were unimpressed would likely argue the authorities were pretending that none of this was happening and ignored it.
Before Sunrise: Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke manage to get everywhere in Vienna, despite only spending only one night there. Pretty amazing, if you consider that the location are spread out over the city and are visited in random order. It's even more amazing if you consider that all of this time they never get on a bus or take a taxi (except once - during the day).
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure was nominally set in San Dimas, California, but the school identified as San Dimas High School was actually Coronado High School in Scottsdale, Arizona.
While there was a Circle-K in San Dimas at the time of the filming, it was in a strip mall and not a stand-alone store like the one featured in the film.
Brokeback Mountain caused residents of Riverton, Wyoming, to look out on the dry, arid scorched land (residents of that area beam with pride that the desolate alien planet in Starship Troopers was filmed there) and ponder where these lush mountain vistas were that kept popping up.
Casino Royale (2006), at one point, had Bond driving along a lovely Bahamian ocean road past some sort of charming open-air market. There's absolutely nothing out there but houses.
Considering Bond's globetrotter nature, there are many more examples from the movies. In The Living Daylights, he seems to teleport randomly around Vienna.
In about half of these scenes he's supposed to be in Bratislava at the time, making this especially funny to Austrians; also, there are no high mountains between Bratislava and Vienna.
In Tomorrow Never Dies you get a similar effect with Hamburg. As a bonus, in the scene with the chase in the parking-house next to the Hotel Atlantic, it ends with the car crashing through the wall and falling several stories into Mönckebergstraße - at a spot which is actually about half a kilometer away from the hotel.
In Skyfall, Bond pursues the villain through two stations in The London Underground - Temple and Embankment, both on the sub-surface District and Circle lines. However, they're depicted as deep-level lines served by Jubilee Line train stock - most likely the shooting locating was the disused Jubilee Line platforms at Charing Cross, which are frequently hired out for filming. And when an exterior shot of "Embankment Station" is shown, that's actually the Northumberland Avenue exit of Charing Cross station - though that's very close to the real Embankment.
Also in Skyfall, the A9 road is namedropped as the route Bond and M take to reach the title location, which - going by the scenery - is in Glen Coe, a part of Scotland nowhere near the A9.
The Dabney Coleman/Henry Thomas film Cloak & Dagger was filmed in San Antonio, Texas. In a climactic scene, Thomas's character, Davy, has to get from San Antonio's Riverwalk (downtown) to the airport (on the outskirts of the city) in less than fifteen minutes. If he'd left for the airport immediately, he still probably wouldn't have made it in time. Yet, Davy has time for a shootout with the mooks, followed by a car chase with the mooks, before showing up at the airport to confront the Big Bad with a few minutes to spare.
Averted in The Collector, which is set and filmed entirely within the confines of the city of Vancouver. And "'only'" Vancouver, none of the adjacent municipalities.
Coronation Street featured a Chase Scene showing a car turning a corner in Salford and crashing into a canal in Ashton (about 8 miles or so apart).
In The Departed, The Mole texts the police to go to Sheffield, and they're shown choosing an exit off an elevated highway accordingly. Sheffield is a hundred and forty miles from Boston, in New England, where that still counts for a lot; to get there you go through two other metropolitan areas and then a good thirty miles out into the country.
In Die Hard 2, the action is set at Dulles Airport, near Washington DC, but the pay phones bear Pacific Bell logos. And the police are consistently identified as DC police even though Dulles is in Virginia. And the bad guys plan and execute an escape by snowmobile, and a long icicle is used effectively as a weapon. Washington area winter weather almost never supports snowmobile use in the suburbs, and is almost always mild until after the Christmas season.
Additionally, the airport used in the movie looks nothing like the real Dulles Airport which has a very unusual architecture. That's because many of the exterior airport scenes were shot at Alpena Regional Airport, in Alpena, Michigan, on Lake Huron. Alpena was chosen in part because the producers needed a location with consistent, heavy snow, winter weather cold enough to use snow makers if necessary, and it's small enough that they could close several runways for shooting. The scenes in the baggage-claim drive-through were shot at Denver-Stapleton.
Isn't the weather at least justified, as it was supposed to be one of the worst winter storms on record that particular terrorist-laden Christmas?
In Live Free or Die Hard, the main characters realize they have to run to DC. When they realize this, they are clearly on Light Street in Baltimore, MD. They manage this. note It's roughly 40 miles from Baltimore to Washington DC.
Dirty Harry: going from Forest Hills Station to Aquatic Park to Mount Davidson in under an hour would be a neat trick in a car (without sirens), let alone on foot.
Harry also is able to take the train directly from Forest Hills to Delores Park which is impossible in real life. You have to take a separate line.
In Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Elizabeth gives her inspiring Speech to the Troops at Tilbury and then retires to watch the Battle of Gravelines. Of course, this requires her to be able to see not only across the English Channel but in fact all of Kent. (We also have the little problem that the Speech to the Troops was given after the Battle of Gravelines, when they were still worried about an invasion force.)
Enemy of the State was set in Washington DC, but filmed in both DC and Baltimore. Multiple scenes have characters walking from a location in one city to a location in the other city, even though they are about an hour's drive apart.
To say nothing of the "Georgetown" Metro stop that found its way into that and several other movies.
Four Brothers, about a quartet of young men who avenge their adoptive mother's murder, was mostly filmed in Hamilton, ON despite being set in Detroit, MI. Made worse by the fact that the two cities are only about three hours' driving time apart.
The 2008 Get Smart movie features a climactic Chase Scene in which the characters travel via freeway between core downtown Los Angeles, the Port of Los Angeles (in Long Beach), and Van Nuys Airport (in the San Fernando Valley) within the space of a few minutes.
Godsend is repeatedly said to take place in a "small American town." Not only does it not remotely look like a "small town," the father drives past the rather unique-looking Roy Thompson Hall of Toronto.
In The Graduate, the protagonist is headed to Berkeley from LA over The Bay Bridge. Not only is it unnecessary since both of the major highways (101 & 5 to 580) going from LA to the San Francisco area could or would deposit him in the East Bay, but he's going across the bridge into San Francisco.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army ends at the Giant's Causeway, County Antrim. It's worth noting that the causeway, a formation of hexagonal pillars formed from volcanic rock (according to myth the foundations of a bridge to Scotland so that two giants may fight) does not appear. Not even a dodgy mock-up. Instead there is a large fallen statue of a giant. It's also worth noting that there is an island off the coast of County Kerry actually called "The Sleeping Giant" because it looks like one. One wonders why they didn't just set the climax there if they really wanted that kind of a landmark.
High School Musical takes place at East High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was actually filmed at East High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. However, East High School's auditorium isn't that impressive, so to film the stage scenes they had to go to Murray High School, about fifteen or so minutes away.
Possible aversion: the Chicago-area McAllister house in the Home Alone movies is an actual suburban house in Winnetka (a Chicago suburb).
As it was written by John Hughes it's half aversion, half this trope. They never mention which Chicago Suburb the McAllisters live in, but you can be certain that it's the same fictional town - Shermer - that Hughes set all his Chicago-based films in.
A possible exception being Ferris Buellers Day Off where the characters visit almost every landmark in Chicago in the span of a few hours and make it home in time for their parents to get back from work. Even if one were to assume they only spent a few minutes at the Cubs' game, a few minutes at the Sears Tower, etc., traffic and distance would stop them from visiting all of those places during a 9-5 workday.
The VH1 Made-for-TV MovieHysteria: The Def Leppard Story tried to double Sheffield with Canada. So drummer Rick Allen's famous car crash, which happened on the A57 in the Derbyshire Peak District, looks like it happened on the Icefields parkway. The very North-American yellow centre lines on the road are also a bit of a giveaway.
Not a big, famous town such as L.A. or Vancouver, but when the criminals who are the subject of In Cold Blood (1967) are seen approaching the Clutter's home, they are crossing the railroad tracks in Holcomb, Kansas. The Clutters did live across the tracks, but the car in the scene is going north. The Clutters lived south of the tracks.
The Norwegian film Insomnia (later remade in Hollywood): When the main characters drive from the airport to their hotel, they make an inexplicable detour past a building several kilometers out of their way. And the exterior of their "hotel" is recognisable as an office building that ironically is very close to several real hotels.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back has the animal testing facility/diamond heist scene set in Boulder, Colorado. The scene gets nearly everything wrong. Boulder is home to a Strawman U with an extremely active Anti-Animal Testing protest group and so the lab would never have been there in the first place. The setting appears to be the plains, but Boulder is at the feet of the Flatirons mountains. Finally, Jay and Silent Bob steal a monkey and leave with it on foot. The next scene shows them in Utah, which is 300+ miles away over the Rockies.
Nicolas Cage's Knowing, set in Boston and New York, was filmed in Melbourne, Australia. One of the scenes was filmed on the steps of the state Parliament House. Imagine, Americans, a film set halfway around the world with a scene taking place outside your State Capitol.
Knowing is theoretically set in the Lexington area, Massachusetts, but you can safely say that the film's director has never even seen pictures of Lexington. This is most evident on any scene set on a highway, where there are huge desolate areas with no trees, where Massachusetts has an overabundance of them near its highways.
Lakeview Terrace is very clearly not Lake View Terrace. It was actually filmed in Walnut, about 40 miles away. Especially jarring for the fact that any production company based in Southern California would know that Walnut cannot pass for Lake View Terrace.
The Left Behind (2000) movie was filmed in Toronto, setting the city hall as UN headquarters, but that's not the bad part. You want to hear what's just ridiculous? The flags out front were from all the Canadian provinces and territories.
The building destroyed at the beginning of Lethal Weapon 3, a movie series set in Los Angeles, is obviously the old Orlando City Hall, with the new City Hall, the Suntrust Tower (the tallest building in the city) and other notable Orlando landmarks featured in the background. Made even better by the fact that the cop who says "Bravo" is Bill Frederick... Orlando's mayor at the time.
Parts of the Sy Fy Channel Original MovieLocust take place in Southern Indiana/Kentucky, and one scene features the main characters driving from Kentucky to Indiana. They pass a "Welcome to Indiana!" sign by the side of the road with trees and dirt and such. Go check out a map of the Indiana/Kentucky border to see why that wouldn't work. (Hint: the Ohio River defines the entire Indiana/Kentucky border). That's not even mentioning the scenes taking place in southern Indiana showing perfectly flat, level ground despite the huge number of thousand-foot hills in that area.
Looking at a map of Indiana, there is one location in the southwest part of the state near Evansville where the Indiana/Kentucky border is north of the Ohio River on solid ground. 200 years ago it followed the river, but the river changed paths and the border stuck, so a land crossing between the two states does exist. Still, that does not account for the issue with the hills in Southern Indiana.
The 1961 film The Long Ships takes place in Scandinavia and North Africa, but was entirely filmed in Yugoslavia, which, needless to say, looks very little like either location.
The ballpark used for the Cleveland Indians' home stadium in Major League was actually County Stadium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The filmmakers had to shoot there to work around Bob Uecker's schedule (since they cast the real-life Brewers broadcaster as the fictional Indians broadcaster Harry Doyle), and they thus also recast the Milwaukee TV station with its real life logo on the outfield scoreboard as a Cleveland station.
And Major League II used Camden Yards and Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and Comiskey Park in Chicago.
By the same token, much of the scenes in the 1994 remake of Angels in the Outfield were shot at Oakland's Alameda Coliseum rather than the Angels' home field of Anaheim Stadium.
The first Men in Black film shows K spying on his pre-Masquerade wife in Truro. The map starts with all of Massachusetts, zooms in on Cape Cod ... and zooms in on Sandwich, about as far as you can get from Truro. Ironically, the lush forest in the background of "Truro" looks much more like Sandwich.
When the Griswolds set out from Chicago in National Lampoons Vacation, oil rigs can be seen in the background. L.A. has plenty of these (and even southern Illinois has some oil deposits), but not Chicago. Much of the rest of the movie was filmed on location.
Some tall palm trees, and maybe even mountains, can be seen in the background of the early scenes at the car dealership as well. Oops.
Another Nicolas Cage example, from National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. In the car chase in London Town, the cars cross Westminster Bridge north to south, engage in a chase in what is clearly the City of London, which is north of the Thames - you can see the street signs, then cross Southwark Bridge again north to south.
In No Way Out, there's the (nonexistent) Georgetown Metro stop, with the DC Metro being portrayed by the Baltimore Metro.
As with the TV show Inspector Morse, films set in Oxford (England) tend to frequently play fast and loose with geography — characters in The Oxford Murders, for instance, step out of a pub onto the sidewalk in front of a lingerie store on the other side of the road.
Morse has, for instance, stepped from a cobbled street in the town centre to a park two miles away.
The Isis (the Oxford stretch of the River Thames) gets similar treatment in the rowing film True Blue, when the climactic race scene jumps randomly back and forward on the river, changing directions occasionally and at one point teleporting to Marlow, 25 miles away in a straight line and much further if you follow the river. Given they seem to have filmed (most of) the race on the fairly short stretch of river that it was supposed to be set on, it must be down to odd dramatic editing choices rather than any lack of care on the director's part.
Consider an early scene in The Prestige when Hugh Jackman's character arrives in Colorado Springs. The town he arrives in is high in the mountains (the Springs, like Denver, is situated on the Front Range, just east of the Rockies), and Pikes Peak is nowhere to be seen. Later, he approaches Tesla's lab on a path lined with deciduous trees, not the pine and aspen forests common in that part of the world.
Not to mention the fact that Tesla's Lab was in a very flat, comparably treeless portion of town as compared to the steep sloped, heavy woodlands depicted.
The indie movie A Problem with Fear is supposedly set in the Calgary subway. Calgary doesn't have a subway, and if it did the ads in the subway would likely not be in French, as they were in the movie. One wonders why they didn't just set the damn thing in Montreal.
It's terribly obvious they filmed Resident Evil: Apocalypse in Toronto. An opening shot in the theatrical version shows the CN Tower, and the climax of the movie occurs at another famous landmark — Toronto's uniquely designed City Hall. Granted, a city so much like Raccoon City doesn't exist.
Despite the economic turmoil, Scotiabank's Racoon City expansion plans were unaffected.
In one scene, Apocalypse seems to place Raccoon City in somewhat central New Jersey. Oddly enough, they realistically portrayed an evil pharmaceutical company having a research office, in the middle of nowhere NJ, yet relatively near a larger city. Johnson and Johnson, Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis, Pfizer, Merck, Wyeth, Hoffman-LaRoche, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Schering-Plough all have locations in NJ that somewhat parallel this. No zombies yet though...
The 1976 Robin Hood film Robin and Marian was filmed in Pamplona, Spain, which, needless to say, looks nothing at all like Nottinghamshire.
Much later, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves manages to walk the 170 miles from Sycamore Gap at Hadrian's Wall to Nottingham in a day, having somehow bypassed Nottingham on his trip from the south coast.
In Short Circuit 2, the Unnamed American City which hosts the action also hosts the CN Tower, the Toronto Transit Commission subway, World's Biggest Bookstore and Roy Thompson Hall (lesser known than the CN Tower, but still landmarks).
Dialog between characters establishes the movie is set in New York City.
Sleepless In Seattle showed everyone, including Seattlites, that Seattle has a subway. Underground bus tunnels, yes. Subway, no. Although as of 2009, Link Light Rail trains share the bus tunnels.
In Spider-Man, birds of paradise flowers can be seen in the scene where Norman congratulates Peter on his graduation. Those flowers aren't found in New York but in Southern California.
Scenes from Spider-Man 2 (which is also set in New York) showing Spidey rescuing an elevated "R" subway train in Manhattan were actually filmed using the Chicago "L" as a stand-in. The "R" does not run aboveground in Manhattan.
Part of Spider-Man 3 (which is nominally set and filmed in New York City) was filmed in Cleveland, Ohio, but you mostly can't tell because the empty, dilapidated buildings along Euclid Avenue were covered with shiny fake storefronts for the movie. Until a brief shot where Spidey leaps in front of the Trust Company Building. The rotunda, and the concrete tower behind it are clearly recognizable to those in the know.
At the end of Splash, Tom Hanks and his mermaid girlfriend jump off a wharf in New York City, swim a few hundred feet to get away from some scuba-clad pursuers, then stop to smooch against a glorious background of pristine tropical branch corals.
Star Trek IV generally wreaks havoc with the geography of the San Francisco Bay Area. A particularly notable moment comes when Kirk and Spock have just left the Cetacean Institute in Sausalito (for which the Monterey Bay Aquarium, well to the south of the Bay Area, is obviously being used). Gillian Taylor pulls over to offer them a lift back into San Francisco. In the background is the Golden Gate Bridge in all its glory — and their vantage point on it is already unmistakably in San Francisco.
Taking Lives is set in Montreal, which you can tell from the establishing shot of... the Château Frontenac. Oh, dear.
The villain also takes a train to Fredericton...In three hours. IRL, the trip is 22-24 hours.
The Tom Hanks vehicle Turner & Hooch includes a conversation scene that repeatedly switches back and forth between two camera angles — one angle looking out at Moss Landing Harbor, and the other, looking inland at Pacific Grove, twenty or thirty miles south.
Youve Got Mail takes place in New York but the Golden Gate Bridge is visible when Tom Hanks is walking his dog Brinkly.
In The Prize the American protagonist comes to Stockholm to receive a Nobel Prize. In one scene he falls off the Symphonic Hall into Lake Malaren, which in fact is about a kilometre away from that building. Also, the seasons are wrong: the Nobel Prizes are awarded in early December when Lake Malaren is about +4 degrees Celsius. If you fall into it, the cold will paralyze you in seconds.
The dramatic US Robotics tower in the I Robot film is placed in downtown Chicago...however, its location based on clues from the movie is impossible, appearing in both the Loop and North Michigan Avenue, several miles apart. One shot shows it apparently standing on a large fictional plaza built over the Chicago River, so this may have been intentional. This movie is also an example of Vancouver Doubling, but at least the filmmakers bothered to do some location shooting in Chicago.
The horse/motorcycle chase in True Lies for the first time, as Ahnuld and his horse teleported from Georgetown to the distinctive atrium lobby of the Crystal City Hilton, which is across the Potomac in Virginia near the Pentagon, and doesn't have a condo with a pool across from it. The establishing shot outside the building matched the exterior at least, except that they matted in at least twenty extra stories.
The Rock: towards the climax of the movie, a nerve gas missile is fired from the titular island, programmed to hit the Oakland Coliseum stadium. Seconds later, when the missile is shown approaching its target, the stadium shown is actually Candlestick Park in San Francisco; it's most obvious when you consider the stadium's red seats, and that Candlestick is neighbored by the water and hills shown in the movie while the now-named O.co Coliseum is surrounded by flat dry land next to a basketball arena and a freeway.
Run, Lola, Run has the heroine run all over Berlin in the space of twenty (real time) minutes. For example her house is just north of the Spree and she starts running north, then moments later ends up south of the river, considerably further east, running north across the river. That section of the U-bahn does NOT come out of the ground as is shown. Definitely covered by Rule of Cool.
Can Run Lola Run really be considered part of this? Obviously the running took place in some fantasy reality, seeing as how she makes the run multiple times, usually ending with her boyfriends death.
Trainspotting is the Scottish city of Edinburgh, right? Then what can explain the scene where Renton and Diane come out of the nightclub and it is revealed to be the very distinctive exterior of the Volcano... which is Glasgow, a good fifty miles from Edinburgh?
People from Bayonne, New Jersey, had a lot of fun in the remake of The War of the Worlds starring Tom Cruise. The house in the beginning of the movie is in downtown Bayonne, right underneath the Bayonne Bridge. However, during the alien landing, Tom Cruise walks over to a church that is actually in Newark in under a minute. Beyond the miles of distance required to walk there, Cruise would also have to either swim across Newark Bay or dodge highway traffic across the NJ Turnpike bridge.
Also at the beginning, when the lightning strikes the ground to activate the tripods, it's seen hitting a spot that seems to be just off Route 440 in Jersey City (admittedly, not too far from Bayonne but definitely a few miles from where Tom Cruise's house and nowhere near quick walking distance)...and yet, Cruise and his neighbors are able to quickly walk out and observe the site, mere blocks away into downtown Bayonne.
While this may be, the scenes aren't set at Yale University but at the (seems to be) fictional Marshall College, so they are completely incorrect anyway.
While The Blues Brothers mostly averts this, with most of the exteriors actually being shot in Chicago, the Palace Hotel, supposedly in Wisconsin, has an Ohio flag flying in front of it.
Also, the unfinished highway ramp in the Chase Scene at the end is in Milwaukee.
Die Jungfrauenmaschine is a German film that takes place in San Francisco. At one point a character is in a car driving north in North Beach, which immediately transitions to driving north in South of Market. As one can guess from the names, this would be a geographical impossibility.
Wildflowers features a full, dense forest that characters run and hide in, in the heart of North Beach, which is one of the most urban neighborhoods in the city. The forest appears to be either Golden Gate Park or one of the other parks close to the beach, which are essentially on the opposite side of town.
Sid And Nancy features the characters leaving San Francisco to go to the San Francisco International Airport (which is south of the city) by going across the San Mateo bridge, which is even further south of the airport and which leads to the other side of the Bay from where the airport is. If you are already in the city you don't cross any bridges to get to the airport.
In the film Driving Lessons, Rupert Grint and Julie Walters drive to Edinburgh, arriving on a scenic road down a hillside... which is in the centre of the city and can only be reached once you're already in the city. This is after they've driven south past a recognisable nuclear power station to get there, and following this, you see them going up alleyways and out of entirely different alleyways on the opposite side of the castle. It's a bit disorientating.
Baltimore tourists are often told that the Step Up movies were filmed at the famous Baltimore School for the Arts, probably because the school in the film is based on that. In fact, they were filmed at a local middle school.
The beginning of Zombieland supposedly takes place in Garland, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, but the details in the background make it painfully obvious to locals of North Texas that it was actually filmed in Georgia.
48 Hrs.; Chinatown is not "down the alley" from the Mission District.
In the climax of Guy Richie's Sherlock Holmes, characters somehow manage to run from the sewers of the Houses of Parliament to the top of the newly constructed tower bridge within minutes. The two land marks are miles apart.
In Planes Trains And Automobiles, Steve Martin and John Candy are taking a bus from Kansas to St. Louis... cue iconic shot of The Gateway Arch as the bus they are traveling on crosses the Mississippi River. Problem is, the bus is now traveling west from Illinois instead of east from Kansas.
Legally Blonde 2 takes place in Washington, D.C. Not a single scene was filmed there. Luckily for the filmmakers, plenty of states have state capitols that look very similar to the US capitol. They chose Illinois' and Utah's, then hung around Salt Lake City to film other scenes in the offices of the venue now known as Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Rocky II: During the opening credits, an ambulance takes Rocky from the (now-demolished) Spectrum over a Delaware River bridge (which would take you to New Jersey), into downtown Philadelphia, around City Hall twice, and to Pennsylvania Hospital. The actual route would be a straight shot 20 blocks up Broad Street, six blocks down Locust, and one block over. Even then, you'd pass several closer hospitals.
Rocky's training run in the same film; according to this article, he would've ran over 30 miles! Special credit goes to the kids that followed him for about a dozen miles.
Blow Out: John Lithgow drags Nancy Allen onto a subway-surface trolley car at the 15th Street underground station. Cut to them climbing to street level at Penn's Landing, 15 blocks away. The subway-surface lines terminate at 13th Street. There is no underground station of any kind at Penn's Landing.
In Next the main character enters a building on Fremont Street, Las Vegas and then exits the building onto the main strip.
Waynes World takes place in Aurora, Illinois. Near the beginning of the film Wayne & Garth are cruising around and pass the Spindle in Berwyn - a trip of almost an hour each way. Some joyride.
The King Kong rip-off A.P.E. was set in South Korea. For some reason, despite being filmed in Korea and being co-financed by a Korean film company, they did few establishing shots of Seoul. Instead, two characters simply sit in the backseat of a car and describe Seoul landmarks as they come (the main train/subway station, city hall, the capitol, etc.) In order to see all of these landmarks, they would spend a couple hours driving in different directions.
The Green Lantern film takes place in fictional Coast City, but there are a lot of recognizable New Orleans landmarks in several scenes. Then again, almost every DC Universe city is a disguised version of a "real world" city. (Just which city, though, is sometimes open to debate...)
In The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension has a number of these scattered throughout. For instance, palm trees are visible in front of what is alleged to be the New Brunswick, NJ police headquarters. And Grovers Mills, NJ — in reality a rural area made up mostly of farmland and residential districts — looks like a giant industrial park.
The Descent is supposedly set in the American south, but the flora in the external shots is glaringly incorrect, especially the overhead shots of the pine trees. It was filmed in Scotland, which has a completely different conifer species predominating.
Jingle All the Way is set in the Twin Cities, but occasionally can't decide which of the two cities it's in. In one scene, the action jumps from Rice Park (in downtown St. Paul) to background shots of downtown Minneapolis (about 9 miles away).
In The X-Files: Fight the Future, they try and convince the audience that downtown LA is downtown Dallas, and that north Texas is both undeveloped and desert, whereas in reality it's developed and grassland.
In Scary Movie 4 the characters come across video footage of Detroit before and after the alien attack (setting up a joke that nothing really had changed). Unfortunately the city in the footage was actually San Diego (with CGI blast damage added). San Diego and Detroit look nothing at all alike.
In Escape from L.A. Snake Plisskin flies a home-built hang glider from Griffith Park to a climactic final battle at the site of the former Disneyland in Anaheim in under 10 minutes. Mind you, these locations are roughly 30 miles apart.
RoboCop (1987) is set in Detroit, but the skyline of Dallas is clearly visible in one chase scene. OCP headquarters is a matte painting featuring Dallas City Hall as its lower floors.
OCP apparently does a *lot* of work to Detroit, because by the time RoboCop 2 rolls along, Detroit somehow looks exactly like Houston.
Animal House was set in a northeastern university but the shooting took place in Oregon.
Parodied in Team America: World Police: all the sets (Paris, Panama, etc.) feature the landmarks of known locations within immediately visible range. For example, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris are on the same city block.
Striking Distance: To Pittsburgh locals, the chase scene route at the beginning kind of makes sense, sorta. The tunnels they go through are about a mile and a half from the route they take through downtown, and they drive along notoriously time-consuming routes.
Also the Establishing Shot of the courthouse isn't in Pittsburgh at all, it's the New York State Supreme Court.
In vampire film Innocent Blood a vampire drive out of the Fort Pitt tunnel only to find the sun rose while he was driving through it. The sun burns him. Neat idea, except that tunnel faces northeast, and the sun would be obscured by several buildings and hills at that point in the morning. (It was still dark when they entered the less-than-a-mile-long tunnel. Who knew the sun rose so fast in Pittsburgh!)
Invasion U.S.A. (1952): Enemy paratroopers are shown landing on a beach supposedly outside Washington, D.C., which is 30+ miles from the Atlantic Ocean.
Meanwhile, scenes of the other Washington show paratroopers landing in the wide open plains around Puget Sound, with not a single tree or hill in sight.
The 1971 cult film Get Carter ends with a scene where Michael Caine chases after Ian Hendry with a shotgun. They run away from Blythe Staithes (in the county of Northumberland) onto the beach at Blackhall Rocks (in the County of Durham), a mere 35 miles farther south.
In Jönssonligan får guldfeber, a film in the Swedish version of the film series Olsen-banden, there's a memorable scene on the clock of the Stockholm City Hall main tower. Except that the tower has no such clock there. The reason is that in the original Danish version, they were at the Copenhagen Town Hall, which does have a clock on the tower.
A Good Day to Die Hard contains a notorious example (much derided in the Russian press) where the protagonists drive from Moscow to Pripyat (the ghost city evacuated during the Chernobyl disaster) in about two or three hours like no big deal. In reality, it is 600 miles away, is a restricted zone, and, last but not the least, on the territory of another country (Ukraine).
A rare example of the deliberate use of this trope is the 1971 film Walkabout, in which the main characters travel on foot, as the title would suggest, across areas of the Australian outback radically different from each other in climate and terrain ... and very distant from each other in real life. Director Nicolas Roeg did this on purpose as he didn't want the journey in the film to be possible in real life.
In The Wolverine, Wolverine and Mariko flee on foot from the attack on the funeral held at the Zojoji Temple, located near Tokyo Tower, and Mariko then says goodbye at Ueno Station. Which means that they ran for about 7 kilometers, while at the same time passing by half a dozen other train stations on the way, from where they could've ridden directly to Ueno. Not only that, they go , which is about 7 km from both endpoints, meaning that they travelled almost 14 kilometers in the space of a couple of minutes.
In Ride Along, Philips Arena, Atlanta's main indoor sports arena, doubles as the fictional Highlands High School. What makes this more egregious: another scene has James showing up at the CNN Center, which is directly connected to Philips Arena.
The platform behind the Hollywood sign in Rock of Ages grants the visitor a wonderful view over Hollywood. However, that's not Hollywood below, it's Miami, and the real Hollywood sign is quite difficult to reach on that hillside and of course doesn't have a viewing platform.
In Red Dawn (2012), one scene features a building exploding after Korean soldiers trip a bomb. Local residents of Mount Clemens, Michigan can testify that the film crew legitimately blew that building up. The crew bought the abandoned property and building and received permission from the city before doing so, of course, but many residents pass by the now empty lot quite often.
Another scene depicts Korean tanks using the freeway to move. The local freeways are not only easily recognizable (a particular sign is even seen completely unchanged, attached to an overpass), but said freeways were specifically built with the purpose of transporting heavy military vehicles in mind, adding in an amusing dose of irony.