Our Scenery Can Sometimes Surprise You

The Sitter photo Credit: Jessica Miglio - TM © 2011 and Twentieth Century Fox. All Rights Reserved

There were two movies in theaters this weekend that I want to talk about: The Sitter and Young Adult.

The Sitter is an Adventures-in-Babysitting-style comedy, where the titular babysitter, played by Jonah Hill, starts off in suburban surroundings. He's charged with taking care of three overprivileged, overindulged children. He starts off watching them in their giant, perfectly decorated home, but, when he gets a call from a girl at a party in Brooklyn, he herds them into their parents’ minivan—complete with New York license plate and one of those little stickers that show you how big the family is—and takes them for R-rated adventures in the gritty city.

Young Adult begins with Mavis, a YA author played by Charlize Theron, living in an apartment in Minneapolis. She decides she wants to return to her small Minnesota hometown of Mercury (not a real place) to reconnect with her high-school sweetheart, packs a designer suitcase, drives over one of the city's many bridges, and takes off for home. When she gets there, she's almost disgusted by how unglamorous it is: the bars are seedy or cheesy, the houses are modest, and everything feels just so small-time.

Now, I ask, based on these descriptions: Which one of these movies do you think was filmed in Westchester?

Young Adult photo credit: Phillip V. Caruso

I thought it'd be The Sitter. The license plate, I figured, was a dead giveaway that they were living in a Westchester suburb and not Connecticut. I checked out all of the suburban scenes looking for clues as to the exact locations. Did that look like a Rye McMansion? They were driving on I-87—would that put them closer to a River Town?

Turns out, most of The Sitter was filmed in Brooklyn. I don’t know where the suburban scenes were shot, but I can't find any evidence that it was in Westchester. It could be California for all I know.

Meanwhile, when I watched Young Adult, I didn't think about Westchester at all. It just looked so Midwestern. Then, when the credits rolled, I saw the special thanks: The City of White Plains, The Town of Greenburgh, and so on. Mercury was really Westchester. (Anyone have any run-ins with Charlize Theron or Patton Oswalt while they were filming here?) All they had to do was throw in some establishing shots of Minneapolis architecture, and I was fooled. As someone who prides herself on her ability to pick out Westchester locations on a moment's notice, I felt stung.

It just goes to show that you think you know a place, but all it takes is someone with a vision to come along and surprise you with it.

Did Westchester ever sneak up on you? Let me know in the comments. 


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Westchester's Pop Culture

About This Blog

Marisa LaScala

Marisa LaScala
Elmsford, NY

Articles Editor Marisa LaScala joined Westchester Magazine in 2003, and ever since she's blown every paycheck at the Greenburgh Multiplex. She also staunchly defends Richard Kelly, doesn't mind spoiling the endings of trashy movies you're curious about but don't want to pay to see, wishes the Hold Steady would come and rock out Westchester, misses Arrested Development more than anyone can imagine, and still watches cartoons and Saturday Night Live. You can find more of her cultural criticism at www.popmatters.com, where she is a staff writer.

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