I’ve long been fascinated by the very specific genre of Movies Set in Seattle But Not Actually Filmed Here. The latest in this cinematic tradition is the new Netflix rom-com “Love, Guaranteed,” in which a Seattle attorney named Susan (Rachael Leigh Cook) falls for handsome client Nick (Damon Wayans Jr.) while helping him sue an online dating service. This happens every day somewhere in Seattle, right? It’s a cute movie, if a bit by-the-numbers (yes, Susan’s sassy staff actually teases her about “debriefing” Nick), but let’s take a look at it through a geographical lens.
So, where are we again?: “Love, Guaranteed” is filmed, like so many in this genre, in Vancouver, B.C., with some attractive establishing shots of Seattle spliced in. The Space Needle, of course, makes a few cameo appearances, winking at us from the CGI’d window of Nick’s apartment. (All Seattle apartments, in movies or television, are required to have views of the Space Needle. Just ask Frasier Crane.)
Going local: Susan’s office is theoretically in the Chinatown International District, a point hammered home by the movie repeatedly showing us her office address as “9839 South Jackson.” This is crafty, as it sounds vaguely legit to Seattle-literate ears, but wrong (you’d have to be under Lake Washington to be in Jackson’s 9800 block). In general, the makers of “Love, Guaranteed” have gone to a bit of trouble to show their Seattle cred: There are references to “a city bus on Pike Street,” scenes taking place at the “West Seattle Rehabilitation Center” (not a thing, but points for trying), a blue candle lit for good Seahawks luck, and rather a lot of rain. Thumbs down, though, for the reporter from the “Seattle Courier.” (Vancouver Courier, I see you.)
Supporting roles: The downtown Seattle courthouse where Susan argues her cases is played, quite convincingly, by the Vancouver Art Gallery, whose lion sculptures on the front steps look appropriately amused. (Perhaps they’ve seen a few “Seattle movies.”) The Pioneer Square neighborhood is played by Vancouver’s similarly brick-paved historic Gastown district, with its unmistakable, ornate street lamps. And Stanley Park, in glorious autumn-toned splendor, plays Some Generic Seattle Park, and doesn’t even bother pretending to be anything other than itself. (The Stanley Park sea wall is unmistakable, as is the vintage Vancouver Rowing Club building seen in several shots. Not that this matters — it looks pretty, and that’s what’s important — but the movie is weirdly inconsistent in its Seattle-ness.)
The final word: Love conquers all for Susan and Nick, who look cute even when caught out in the rain. (Though I did wonder about Susan’s choice of a tight dress with a leather, bustierlike midsection for arguing her case in court. Seattle lady lawyers, is this realistic? I’m genuinely curious.) And Vancouver, our longtime film doppelgänger, looks cute too. “Love, Guaranteed” won’t win awards for originality — it likely won’t win awards for anything at all — but it’s a pleasant enough 90-minute diversion, particularly if you play spot-the-landmark while watching.