Once again, I find myself in a position that may be insulting to some people. At times it’s harsh generalizations. At other times, it’s pointing out a lousy movie or two. But like the Dakotas, and Vermont and New Hampshire, this insult is combining Connecticut together with Rhode Island in one column. Anyone who lives in Connecticut or Rhode Island would be well within their rights to start shouting at me that I shouldn’t be sticking them together solely because of their proximity.
But the point of this article is landscape, scenery, the view. And by those accounts, RI and CT are just not far enough apart for me to justify writing a separate column for each. Both states exhibit that New England charm that is also quintessential to the experience of Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. It’s the red, orange, and yellow leaves of autumn trees. It’s the small town, laid-back feel you get when driving off the beaten path. It’s the colonial architecture. It’s brick buildings and cobblestone roads. It’s things that look and feel antique even though they're being used in the modern day. And it’s the coastline.
Like Massachusetts and Maine, Rhode Island tends to have a rocky coastline dotted with lighthouses to help their adventurous and hard-working fishermen and sailors find their way safely to shore. I’ve enjoyed a few trips to Newport, where you can tour the mansion vacation estates of the Astors and Vanderbilts – you know, to see how poor people used to live. The Cliff Walk around the edge of the city next to the ocean is a beautiful hike.
Although mostly filmed in Jamestown, Dan in Real Life did make some brief stops in Newport. The story revolves around a self-help writer/widower from New Jersey who is struggling to keep his own daughters from rebelling against him. He takes them up to Rhode Island for the annual family vacation with his parents and brothers and sister. You can actually rent the house – Riven Rock - where the movie was shot and spend a week looking out on Narragansett Bay.
The shoots around Rhode Island tend to center on building locations and exteriors, but you can still spot some of the wonderful natural coastline. Dan (Steve Carell) is pulled over by a cop while speeding along Ocean Avenue in Newport, looking for his daughter. Behind him is the rocky coast of the state and Rhode Island Sound stretching out towards the Atlantic Ocean. Other city/town locations include Westerly, Providence, East Greenwich, and West Greenwich. You should be able to spot the Jamestown and Jamestown-Verrazano Bridges in some aerial views of Dan driving his car over Narragansett Bay. I'm going to conveniently jump over the fact that this is a romantic comedy and pretend that because funnyman Carell is in it, that makes it all ok.