In Netflix’s new film, Paddleton, Ray Romano and Mark Duplass are two misfit neighbors who find their friendship guiding them through the most emotional journey of their lives. In between their conversations about life and death, the friends head outside to play their favorite sport — “paddleton.” Their neighborhood has a unique and eccentric vibe, which has viewers wondering, exactly where is Paddleton set?
The film is set in the town of Solvang, a village located in the Santa Ynez Valley of California. According to the town’s website, which refers to Solvang as the “Danish capital of America,” the city features rich Danish architecture and culture, which was left by the Danes that settled there in the early 1900s. In the film, you can see some of Solvang’s key landmarks, including Denmark Square and the Solvang Windmill, and you can catch a glimpse of one of the ostriches from the town’s 33-acre bird farm, Ostrich Land. Parts of the film were also shot in the nearby city of Lompoc, reported KSBY, including a scene which features the town's old Valley Drive-in theater.
The story of Paddelton is centered around two friends — Andy (Romano) and Michael (Duplass) — who lean on each other to get through Michael’s terminal cancer diagnosis. Michael tells Andy (who is a doctor) that he wants to end his life on his own terms, and asks him to help procure medicine for it. Throughout their emotional journey, Andy and Michael find time to play their made-up game of “paddleton,” in which they use tennis rackets to hit a ball against a giant wall and a trash can.
The film was written by Duplass and director Alex Lehmann, and in an interview with Collider, Lehmann revealed why he chose Solvang as the backdrop for the story. “It’s like this Danish town that was like airdropped from straight out of Europe, and air dropped into wine country California,” said Lehmann.“It is this weird town that is really quirky and all the facades have this Hans Christian Andersen vibe to them, and it just kind of fit with the characters. They’re just two quirky guys that don’t totally make sense, but are so authentic and you can’t stop appreciating how different they are. I’ve wanted to shoot something there for a while, it’s only two hours from L.A. — it’s untapped, which is crazy.”
When talking to ShockYa, Lehmann said that he and Duplass wrote the film to explore the dynamics of a genuine friendship, especially in a life and death situation. “We wanted to tell a story about these two characters who felt really alone in the world, yet had this really special relationship that’s hard to define, and certainly doesn’t have a model in this generation,” Lehmann told ShockYa. “These two men platonically love each other, and spend so much time together — I also personally felt like I needed to make a film about letting go, because it’s a challenging thing in my life, so I figured that I should do something that scares me. So we decided to build this relationship between these guys, and force them to let go of such a meaningful connection.”
Just like the premise of the film, the backdrop of Solvang is unconventional and different. But with its charming vibe and eclectic architecture, it may be a great place to visit if you’re ever in the Los Angeles area.
Paddleton is currently streaming on Netflix.