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Move over Canada, New York Street is back.

Move over Canada, New York Street is back. (photo)

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It’s not that Canada isn’t a real place. It’s just that when it pops up on-screen, it frequently isn’t “Canada”: it’s a stand in for some generic American big city, being filmed in for tax purposes. Toronto is where Harold and Kumar began their trek to White Castle and Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey played out their subtle flirtations in “How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days.”

And, of course, Patrick Bateman may have lived and worked in Bret Easton Ellis’ New York, but he was actually working in Toronto’s TD Center, which actually does look New York-y (the architect built a near-identical building for Seagram’s in New York). In Montreal, there was “Gothika” and “Punisher: War Zone” (standing in for Baltimore more or less plausibly).

Though Hollywood productions are always willing to go and shoot wherever the best tax breaks and incentives are, right now Canada is hot once more; as Etan Vlessing notes in the Hollywood Reporter, the weak Canadian dollar’s the big draw.

I suspect that many Americans who travel to Toronto find themselves experiencing a weird sense of deja vu from constant exposure to this most exploitable of movie metropolises. And let’s not forget Vancouver — host to the first four “Scary Movie”s, both “Cats and Dogs,” and this summer’s “The A-Team.”

There’s a nice running joke in the pleasantly undistinguished comedy “Everything’s Gone Green” (notable solely as Douglas Coupland’s screenwriting debut), in which our slacker hero is repeatedly confounded by the sight of palm trees being moved around the city for American productions. Canadians must be perpetually disoriented by seeing their big cities used as stand-ins for a vague “America.”

05282010_back.jpgBut, of course, you can also go the good old backlot route. Universal is in the process of unveiling their new “New York Street,” a replacement for the backlot that burned down in 2008. “New York Street” is shorthand for a sprawling complex that also has “London,” the 1930s NYC, the present etc.

None of it would be particularly convincing to anyone who lives in the area, but it’s there, proudly continuing a tradition of a static, unchanging city that’s getting more fragmented and weird by the day. (To my eye, it still looks suspiciously like “Back to the Future,” which was shot on the old lot.)

It’s worth watching the video below just for the moment where “National Treasure” director Jon Turteltaub delivers this verdict on the quickly rebuilt lot: “My first impression was I couldn’t believe it had gotten that awesome that quickly. I added a bathroom to my house and it took four years.” The main question here: what, precisely, is in Turteltaub’s bathroom? Now that’s a real tourist attraction:

[Photos: “American Psycho,” Lions Gate, 2000; “Back To The Future,” Universal, 1985]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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