The Boyfriend of the Week

December 22, 2009 [comment on this write-up]

This week's Boyfriend is one of those fellas it took me a really long time to warm up to. You know the kind I mean. One of those obnoxious young'uns who started out by dropping metaphoric worms down the back of my shirt and yanking on my figurative pigtails. Annoying. Go away. Stop it. Leave me alone. Mooooommmmm!!!

That was back when Timothy Olyphant was showing up in things like Scream 2, though, back when his only talent seemed to be looking crazy and distracting me with his vamp teeth (yes, Christian Bale's vampy incisors, meet Timothy Olyphant's vampy incisors: kisses! You know you want to.).

Then along came the HBO series Deadwood. In that one, Olyphant played reluctant lawman Seth Bullock, complete with big, wide, vamp-disguising mustache. And though Bullock is easily the least interesting character of the series (sorry, but he is), Olyphant still somehow managed to hold his own, even up against the enormous forces of actors like Ian McShane and Brad Dourif. (And yes, I did just call Brad Dourif an "enormous force." More on him in a bit.) I was impressed enough by that to start paying a little more attention when I heard his name.

Oddly enough, what finally won me over the rest of the way was a romantic comedy, Catch and Release, followed about a year later by easily the most entertaining movie I saw in theaters last summer, A Perfect Getaway. Suddenly, Olyphant went from kind of annoying to thoroughly charming. And that's WITHOUT the 'stache, even, vamp teeth in full glory! (Not to mention the full glory of his fanastically lickable jawline, though perhaps that might've been better left not mentioned. Hi, Mom!) I still can't explain what happened, but I'm going to guess it had something to do with growing up. The both of us. Aw.

For those who have never seen it, Deadwood was a three-season series on HBO (2004-2006) that was about the evolution of Deadwood, South Dakota from mining camp to bona fide town back in the 1800's. As the series opens, Bullock and his friend Sol Star (ex-Boyfriend John Hawkes) have just moved in to open a hardware store. Bullock had been a lawman in Montana for years, finally sickening of the responsibility and opting for a go at entrepreneurship instead (apparently never having seen any one of the 86,000 Westerns about the foiled retirement attempts of lawmen. Am I right, or am I right, Mr. Earp?). Once in the camp, though, Bullock finds himself gradually sucked back into the legal world after a series of murders and other crime-related complexities keep working their way to his front door. Eventually, he also finds himself caught up with a local widow, Alma Garrett, the two falling in love despite the fact he's married to his brother's widow.

Romantic anguish is GO!

Though Bullock is sort of the central figure in the series, he's not really the character that kept me watching. The combination of saloon owner Al Swearengen (Ian McShane), Calamity Jane (the amazing Robin Weigert), and Wild Bill Hickok (Keith Carradine) made for a fascinating trifecta of tough-guy exteriors pasted loosely over complicated hearts. I also loved the town doctor, Amos Cochran, the aforementioned Brad Dourif, who has, in my opinion, aged rather dashingly -- not something I would've anticipated twenty years ago, during the ye olde golden days of Child's Play (p.s. remake of that slated for 2010, god help us). And Hawkes' Sol Star is wonderful too, of course, playing the somewhat mellower counterpart to Bullock's fiery passions and dominating sense of justice.

The show does a great job of showing what the development of the Old West looked like -- its gradual conversion from tents with outlaws to towns with families. The growth of capitalism, fueled in no small part by the lack of organized law, is also pretty fascinating to watch. Any fan of the Western genre, in my opinion, should consider Deadwood a must-see. (Season one, anyway. Season two is still pretty good, but season three is total Dudsville, South Dakota -- probably best the show was canceled when it was.)

So, in like Flynn on The D-wood, obviously. But Catch and Release? What the hell was I doing renting that? First of all, I'm just going to confess right now to an absolutely ridiculous girl-crush on the movie's star, Jennifer Garner. Ever since the first episode of Alias, she has had me completely on her side. She was everything I've always wanted to be in Alias -- courageous, strong, smart, and incredibly sexy in thigh-high boots.

In Catch and Release, Garner stars as a young woman named Gray whose fiancé, Grady, dies just as the story begins. Her loss of his income forces her to give up the house they had just bought together, and so his old roommates, Dennis (Sam Jaeger) and Sam (Kevin Smith, adorbs), invite her to move in with them.

Back in town at about the same time is Grady's oldest friend, Fritz (Olyphant), a Hollywood guy with a Hollywood attitude. Gray and Fritz immediately clash, in no small part because she finds out through him that her fiancé had had an affair -- and a kid -- with a woman in LA. The more they battle each other, though, the more they (of course) begin to fall in love. And yes, while the story's as predictable as they come (oh, romantic comedies, you bore me so with that), what made this one a winner for me was its examination of the balance between grief and joy, and its sweetly authentic sense of humor (thank you again for that, K-Smith).

What I liked about Olyphant's character Fritz in particular was his semi-complexity (again, romantic comedy, so let's not get too carried away with the deep examination). He starts off as what appears to be a complete stereotype: a womanizer, completely obtuse when it comes to emotions or tact. But the more we get to know him, the more we see what's underneath that façade, which is far, far more interesting. Not to mention utterly, utterly adorable. (“What's your favorite color?” Gray asks him one morning. His answer: “Gray.” Please, I know -- that's like the biggest lamest manipulative film cheese line of all time. But I still swooned. Oh, I did. I did. I couldn't help myself. Shut up. Just shut it right now, you cynics with your blackened hearts of cold, cold stone.) (You can read my full review of Catch and Release here, by the way.)

In between that and this summer's Olyphant crush clincher A Perfect Getaway, I sought out and devoured a few more of his films, and even when I didn't like the film itself (Dreamcatcher and Live Free or Die Hard, for excruciating example, ptew, ptew!), I still usually found something to enjoy about him in nearly every part. Agent 47 in Hitman, complicated. Sonny Mann in Coastlines, intriguing. Boot Miller in Stop-Loss, distinctive (hard to be distinctive as a soldier in a soldier movie, too, so kudos). Everything I saw him in brought me one step closer to full-on eyelash-batting. And then A Perfect Getaway sealed the deal by being an absolute BLAST to watch.

Getaway came out this past summer and I will confess I wasn't expecting much from it; it sounded like the usual psychopath-hunting-young-couples-in-isolated-location (Hawaiian wilderness) sort of thing. But surprise, surprise, it's actually pretty entertaining. You can read my full review of it here to get a sense of the plot and other elements I enjoyed. But it was really Olyphant who stood out the most for me. Not just because he's get-out-of-town handsome when he's all scruffy and hasn't bathed in days (seriously, GET OUT OF TOWN with that, just get out, I can't stand it), but also because he was so obviously having FUN with his part. I love to see that. Especially when the actor's enthusiasm isn't also getting in the way of their effectiveness (note to B-movie stars: this is the part that is key). A Perfect Getaway is just a popcorn-chomping entertainment flick, not a "film." But you know what? I love those, and I ain't ashamed to admit it. Not one bit.

Coming up next for Tim are three projects -- two films and one TV series -- I have heard surprisingly little buzz about so far. The first is the film Elektra Luxx, written and directed by Sebastian Gutierrez, author of Snakes on a Plane -- do with this information what you will. It's a comedy about a porn star (Carla Gugino, who seems a little old to play a porn star to me, but that's just because I'm a horrible person) who finds out she's pregnant. I wouldn't really even consider this one, to be honest, except for the fact it also costars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is brilliant, and the possibility it might contain the line, "I'm tired of these motherf*cking porn stars on this motherf*cking plane!," which would be pure awesome. (Dude, Gutierrez, I double-dog dare you. Seriously.)

The other upcoming film project for Tim is slightly more exciting, if only because it might end up being 2010's crap movie of the year. It's The Crazies, a remake of George Romero's 1973 film (I know at least one person in the audience here who just let out a whoosh of horrified fury -- do keep in mind, dear, that this was not my idea), about a small town in Iowa that is suddenly afflicted with insanity and then death by a mysterious toxin that gets into their water supply. If Olyphant brings to this movie the same sense of fun he brought to A Perfect Getaway, it could be a total good-bad blast. Then again, horror remakes, oof. So far, the track record on scary revamps has not been terribly impressive, I have to say.

You never know, though. Oh hell, yes you do. You totally know.

At least the final project for Timothy is one we can all let ourselves get just a little excited about. It's the FX series Justified (originally called Lawman, if you've been paying attention -- I blogged about it briefly last fall), slated to launch on January 25th. It's a drama about a U.S. Marshall (Olyphant) and while it sounds just like The Shield (lawman breaks all the rules to make sure his brand of morally dubious justice gets served): 1) The Shield was awesome, and 2) Olyphant's character was inspired by Elmore Leonard's Deputy U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens, who's shown up in several of Leonard's works and is a fairly interesting dude.

Additionally, the pilot was directed by Michael Dinner, who helped create the short-lived, fantastic, also-Leonard-inspired, also-Carla-Gugino-starring(-not-as-a-porn-star-though) Karen Sisco. In any case, the buzz on this has been pretty mellow so far, which has surprised me. I haven't even seen a TV ad for it yet. But FX has a pretty good track record for smart drama, and I'm definitely willing to watch anything in which Timothy Olyphant gets to look scruffy and bad-ass. My standards are low, which is why I've seen Dreamcatcher.

The Boyfriend of the Week site and affiliated blog will now commence vacay, while I take the next week or so off to do family stuff and relax. Coming up next will be my Tops of 2009 lists -- ten favorite books read in 2009, ten favorite good movies seen, and five favorite bad movies seen. Check back the first week in January for that.

And in the meantime, Happy Holidays to you all, and thanks for another ridiculously awesome year together! See you in 2010!

MacGyver Factor Score: 98.247%.

Points off for, wait, what was that one called again? Oh yeah, DREAMCATCHER. What the. . .what? And Tim, did you know I spent something like fifteen dollars on that one? Via accidental activation of pay-per-view in a hotel room a few years back? I'm sending the bill to your house. Keep an eye out for an envelope labeled, "ALIEN SPEW DRYCLEANING."

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Boyfriend-Related Links

Timothy Olyphant's IMDb page
Tim's Wikipedia page
Timothy Olyphant fan site
Another fan site (yay for fan sites!)

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