What's real and what's not about the Seattle setting of the Jennifer Aniston/Aaron Eckhart movie "Love Happens."

Share story

The whole world knows about our atmospheric reputation, but does Hollywood have to keep milking the cliché?

When the Jennifer Aniston/Aaron Eckhart movie “Love Happens” opens in theaters tomorrow, moviegoers nationwide will again be battered with stereotype about the weather in Seattle. The romantic comedy is set in our fair city, and in the background of nearly every establishing shot it’s pouring rain.

In fact, when the production was filming a few scenes in town about a year and a half ago and blogs were abuzz with Eckhart sightings, the weather was rather pleasant. That became a big problem for a movie in which rain plays a starring role.

But thanks to the fakery of special-effects sprinklers, skillful editing and a shooting schedule in which Vancouver, B.C., doubled for Seattle more often than not, the movie got its rain. (Pay attention to the opening scenes, in which Eckhart gets drenched on a quick walk from Pike Place Market to Vancouver’s Hyatt Regency.)

This is certainly not the first time Seattle locations have been augmented with extensive footage shot in Vancouver — aka Hollywood North. For more than a decade, Seattle’s film industry has been eclipsed by that of its Northern neighbor, which offers filmmakers generous incentives to shoot there. Remember last year’s “Battle in Seattle”? “Battle on Granville Street” would have been more fitting.

While watching “Love Happens,” Seattle audiences may get a similar sense of whiplash, keeping track of which scenes were shot here, and which ones in Vancouver. But that might also be part of the fun of a movie that plays fast and loose with geography, landmarks and background action (those funny-looking Canadian traffic signs can be a dead giveaway).

Despite all the ersatz rain, “Love Happens” does its travelogue best to make Seattle look lovely — when it’s really Seattle, that is.

There’s the Elephant Car Wash! There’s a ferry! There’s The Market Theater! There’s a bogus window backdrop of the downtown skyline!

Here are a few more details both real and phony to look for while watching “Love Happens”: • Eckhart’s character takes the scenic route in a cab ride from the airport to downtown via the West Seattle Bridge.

• When Aniston’s character drops in on her boyfriend with lunch, she’s carrying a distinctive Dick’s Drive-In bag.

• Eckhart and Aniston share their first Seattle date at the Water Street Cafe in Vancouver’s Gastown (the set decorator placed a Stranger news box on the corner just to throw us off).

• On another date, they take a leisurely stroll from the Gum Wall in Post Alley to the Fremont Troll to Bruce Lee’s grave on Capitol Hill.

• Gastown also doubles for Pioneer Square in an exterior scene at Aniston’s flower boutique.

• Eckhart hitches a short ride from Aurora Avenue North back to the Vancouver Hyatt Regency.

• Taking the stairs to the top of the Space Needle? I don’t think so!

Ted Fry: tedfry@hotmail.com