So much summer has been happening that I have gotten behind. Sorry for the long delay but I had to go to the beach. Thems the breaks.
Today brings a movie based on a true story of someone meeting someone online and then somehow murdering someone. The online user name is “talhotblond” which really bugs me. I would never message someone with that name. Even the network knows it because the title of the movie is “Tall Hot Blonde” in the Lifetime commercials (though not on the imdb.) That’s weird- why don’t they match?
It’s directed by Courtney Cox! So I guess I should be asking her about the mixed titles of the movie. I am purposefully not reading the articles about the real incident so that I don’t ruin the movie for myself because the commercials look so bananas that I can’t believe this is a true story.
This is also another movie that gives me the opportunity to show real life side by side with the movie version. Real life is on the left:
A guy walks down a long dark corridor but pauses to text someone. Then he gets in his dark car. We see a man in the shadows with a rifle walking up to the car but this guy is so busy texting that he doesn’t notice. The gunman shoots out his window and then kills him.
Two months earlier.
Dudes working in hardhats in some kind of metal plant talking about drinking beers and the weekend. These are salt of the earth dudes, you guys. The credits inform me that Courtney Cox also produced this movie so I have to assume this is her passion project, like the Apostle was for Robert Duvall.
The next scene is literally just to show that he’s a normal dude who has two daughters and a sweet dog. The kids bicker and he deals with it and plays with the dog. Happy family!
The older daughter is horrified at the sight of hamburger helper (or whatever it is that he cooked) and says “do you know how much fat and salt is in this??” and he’s all “sorry princess, I don’t have time to make you a gourmet meal every night.”
Then mom gets home and it’s Laura San Giacomo (better known as the hooker friend in Pretty Woman) and she’s all “sorry, had to work late!” and then she sees the food and asks “do you know how much fat and salt is in this??”
The dad just stands there looking befuddled.
Mom gets a call and there are people meeting up for dinner but dad ain’t having it- this is his poker night. She asks if he can miss on and he says that it’s the one night he spends with the guys, like he’s about to lose it. She says not to get worked up and that it’s fine.
This guy is so happy to get out of the house that he is getting dressed up and pouring on the cologne while his friend eats dinner with his family. He even tells his friend “this is my one night one every month!” Really, he only gets out of the house once a month? That implies that he and his wife never go anywhere either. He’s like a caged animal. A really slow and boring caged animal. Maybe like a caged manatee?
His young friend starts telling him about his wild night last night with some girl named Mandy and dad is wayyyy too excited to hear about his friend’s sexcapades. The friend is way younger and only in college now. This guy is the guy who was killed at the beginning of the movie, right? I think so.
Montage of poker night. Then then guys start ribbing the young friend about how his life is easy and dad shares that the marines was the best time of his life and had he not gotten injured he’d love to still be there but alas, he had to leave the service.
Okay. His friends change the subject because they seem weirded out and want to get back to the making fun of the young guy because that’s more fun.
Dad says he needs to get going and they’re all “it’s only midnight!” but he informs them that he has responsibilities. He’s all “I wish we could do this more than once a month.” The friends inform him that they’ve been playing in some poker thing online more often and then joke that he may not know what a computer is. They write down the web address for him and explain how typing text works for chatting and he says he will give it a try after a little convincing.
He gets home and his wife is all kissy kissy and asks “do you want to try?” And he sort of lays on top of her.
Try? He seems to get upset and she hugs him. I am guessing he has boner issues and she doesn’t mean try to get pregnant or something? He apologizes and says he’s tired but that he loves her and they fall asleep holding hands.
The family barbecues but sinister music is playing so I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about it. He walks the dog and the music gets worse but they do not find a dead body or anything.
He goes on the family computer and finds allbetzoff.com and his wife asks him what he’s up to and is all “awww, welcome to the 21st century” and thinks it sounds fun. Up until now this guy has apparently never used a computer and that’s wild to me. I guess my mom is probably similar so I shouldn’t be surprised.
Wifey reminds him that he has to get the kids up and ready in the morning and he nods while he creates his login. Because I am afraid of using my real name online at all I am horrified that he starts to use his full name “Thomas Montogery” to log in. He changes his mind and goes with “Marine Sniper.” Whew, that was a close one.
When the screen opens with a list of hundreds of games going on he goes “wowwwww” like he’s never seen something so amazing in all his life. Montage of him getting really into playing online and having fun with his friends.
It’s kind of sweet, honestly. He realizes that he can have friends AND be a dad. He’s psyched!
Uh oh, someone named “talhotblond” has asked him to privately chat and he accepts it. DECLINE! DECLINE!
The girl is all “are you really a sniper?” and sends him a photo of her in a bikini. He immediately starts lying and says he’s about to ship out and she says she’s not done with high school yet. He’s all “oh my god” in a husked whisper but isn’t his own daughter in high school??? Ack, gross. I can’t tell if his whisper is out of shock or excitement. Probably both. It takes very little with this guy apparently.
Dad wakes up the girls bright and early and gets them on the bus but they seem annoyed that he’s not driving them himself. He says he has stuff to do this morning.
What he has to do is go through photos of himself when he was young and scan one to upload onto his computer. Oh god, here we go.
He gets to work and his friends are all “what happened to you last night?” so I guess he couldn’t handle chatting and poker at the same time. He says he’ll be back on tonight. Ew, I’m sure he will be.
It just occurred to me that this dude is the main guy on Raising Hope. It’s amazing what some serial killer glasses will do for a man’s face.
She asks if he’s okay and he says “yeah” and then turns on the tv while staring at the back of her head, willing her to get off of his new glowing poker sex toy.
She complains a little bit about work and he’s all “maybe you need some sleep” so she goes to get ready for bed and he logs right on. He’s playing poker but clearly waiting for his teenage fantasy to log on. Her name is Katie.
She is all “wow, you’re cute!” about his photo and I’m surprised that she’s not all “wow, that photo looks like it was taken in 1985” but no one said this girl, who could very well be a bot, is smart. He gets super into talking to her and abandons his poker game again. She sends him a face shot and he’s all “you are so beautiful” to the computer screen. He keeps downloading these photos so I assume they live on his computer somewhere… foreshadowing.
^^^^^ enjoy that, I did ^^^^^
Three weeks later.
Mom is on the computer sending emails and he’s all “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!!?” and she says that she has stuff to do and he whines that he was supposed to be online an hour ago.
She says that he’s been hogging the computer every night for a month so he can back off. He’s not very smooth about his online cheating. This also makes me wonder how good he could be at poker- his face is an open book.
New scene- dad has bought a new computer! A laptop! Mom is so pissed. Looks like he bought a macbook and put it on the credit card and mom is not loving it. They are on a tight budget and they can’t afford it. Isn’t he playing poker with real money? Is that in their budget? He lays out a giant guilt trip about how he hasn’t bought shoes in 8 years and that this is the one time he bought something for himself and doesn’t he deserve that? Mom agrees but looks concerned. At the very least wouldn’t she be thinking that he’s gotten a gambling addiction?
He’s now online ALL THE TIME. Wifey has to notice, right? He’s emailing this girl like he’s really about to ship out and scared and that no one understands him. Like teen angsty while his wife is sitting in the next room. So creepy! No one understands him!
He’s so alone even when with his family!
Also, is anyone believing that an actual “shy” 17 year old girl has the username “talhotblond” and goes through poker sites looking for people to chat with? Or that he’s the ONLY person she’s chatting with. Good lord, this guy is as gullible as dudes who think strippers are REALLY into them. She wants to send him a care package and he totally gives her a real address that he says it’s his dad’s address. Such a dummy.
Ack! Horror! He imagines the photo of her animating (this just legitimately scared me) and saying she loves him and he says he loves her too. Gross x 1000.
Then suddenly a hand is on his shoulder and we cut to commercial. Uh oh.
It’s his wife and she wants him to come to bed. She doesn’t even look at what he’s doing because she is a very trusting wife who is not all up in his business. She says that they should go out tomorrow and he’s all “are you asking me out on a date?” and she says that she is and they are flirty and it’s cute. They go to dinner and a movie but he complains about the prices- she points out that he just bought himself a new “laptop computer” and he gets even more uptight. Then they get home and his wife is all “I thought the movie was pretty funny” but he’s already left the room to get back on the computer. Wife looks sad.
HOLY CRAP! He logs onto the poker board and talhotblond is in his poker game, playing with his friends and she’s all “oh, there you are Tommy” and he freaks out! What are his friends thinking? I can only imagine. The movie goes very pop-up-video with their chat popping up on screen over the images, with the pop! sound effect and everything. He’s worried.
So worried that he starts envisioning a young him talking to this girl about how these aren’t his friends and they don’t know him and how he’s an enigma and they kiss and it’s all so gross.
Imagining this seems to solve his boner problems though. Oh yeah, he’s now jerking off in front of a laptop while his wife is in the other room getting ready for bed. Oh wait, it only lasted for like 10 seconds so it wasn’t anything she needed to be present for.
I hope no one ever tells this guy about online pornography- he’d never turn his laptop off again.
He is up and has made breakfast and says he went for a run and the wife is all “what the…?” so I guess 10 seconds of self pleasure really effects this guy. His whole life is changing! Best 10 seconds ever!
Mom opens his laptop but the girls come in to eat breakfast and she sets it aside.
At work the young friend is all “what’s the deal with the talhotblond?” and he says that he just chats with various people online and this girl is just one of them. Young friend also chatted with her and thinks she sounds really “cool” and is all “it’s too bad she lives so far away.” You can see that dad is about to blow his top. The friend keeps trying to get more information out of him but he’s all “I barely know her” and the friend is all “you’re old enough to be her dad, hahaha” but this guy ain’t laughing. He’s anger laughing, right through his clenched teeth.
So, everyone in this movie is really naive about internet chat rooms even though he’s lying- which is kind of funny, when you think about it. I’d think that would make him hyper aware that other people might be too… but I’d be wrong!
Dad gets home and gets the mail (featuring a certain care package) but mom is also home. Apparently she told him all about how she’d be home early when they were on their date but he wasn’t listening to her. He quickly hides the package Katie sent him under his shirt. He makes an excuse to walk the dog and goes out to the woods and opens the package.
The letter says “I hope this finds you well…” and that she hopes these things help him through the “dark days” and it’s bikini photos of her and some panties. He rubs the panties on his face. I think about how this 17 year old writes letters like an old lady.
His life is basically total fantasy now. He works out all the time (because if you work out enough you go backwards 20 years in age)
and writes fantasy letters about what a great lover he is (ick) and a photo of himself at 21 is hanging in his own work locker. He has gone off the deep end and is fully “involved” with this person who may or may not exist.
At work mom complains to her work friend Courtney Cox about how distant her husband has become. Courtney Cox is all “maybe he’s having an affair?” but mom is all “we’ve been married for 18 years, no way!” Courtney Cox informs her that this is the digital age and you don’t have to leave the house anymore to have an affair.
She gives a lot of baffled faces but agrees to look at his laptop next time he’s out.
Poker night and dad is all weird and antsy and they are all “jeez, do you have somewhere else to be?” and where else could he need to be? This girl lives in Indiana (supposedly) and thinks he’s in Afghanistan so why not play poker? Why so antsy? We’ll never know.
Mom figures out the password to his laptop (semper fi) and reads stuff but whatever it is isn’t shown to the audience. They eat dinner and now mom is distant. He doesn’t seem to notice. As she goes to bed he’s all “guess I’ll play a few hands with the boys” and she says okay while she gives him a sad clown face.
He goes into the bathroom and puts a new sim card into his phone and calls Katie and is all “ohhhhhhh” and she somehow discerns that it’s him from his weird throat sounds that don’t form words. Oh my god, he tells her “I love you, Katie, you give my life meaning” and he keeps saying that he’s in Afghanistan.
OH MY GOD- he just asked her if she’ll marry him when he gets back from this tour and she’s all “YES!!!!” and she’ll make him so happy.
Ummm, what? So many things wrong here. Firstly, if she is real then he’s manipulating and using a 17 year old girl who is legitimately into him. Secondly, he’s completely off his rocker and seeing 21 year old him in his reflection in the mirror. Thirdly, he’s already married and living in Michigan, no where near Afghanistan. Fourthly, his young friend is also chatting with this girl and that’s been established. Fifthly, they’ve never met and this is the first time they’ve spoken and he’s proposed.
I could go on but why bother, you know the next scene is going to just bring more crazy.
Oh yeah, dad brings the kids home from school and mom is all “Thomas, what’s the deal? Am I not tall enough for you? Not hot enough for you? I’m certainly not blonde enough!” and the daughters are all “umm, are you okay mom?” They send the kids to walk the dog.
She has read all the letters! Seen all the photos! She calls him out for lying about himself too and it’s awesome. He’s all “I didn’t cheat on you, I never met her!” and she points out that he couldn’t meet this girl since he hasn’t told her he actually is. SNAP! He’s all “she kept on talking to me” and she points out that he was the grown up and not to blame the kid in the situation. DOUBLE SNAP!
I am not sure I could ever look him in the eye after reading all these made up letters he wrote. I probably couldn’t. It’s just so pathetic. The wife says that this girl could be his daughter and that that sickens her. He’s all “what are you going to do?” She tells him that he can’t be sleeping there tonight.
She mentions that there is a girl involved here who has believed him and that that is not fair. Dad is all “she thinks Tommy is overseas so I’ll just kill him and then she’ll be sad but she’ll get over it.” WHAT?!?!!? Mom is all “what is wrong with you? You can’t just keep lying.” Fair point, but WHY DOES EVERYONE IN THIS MOVIE ASSUME STRANGERS ONLINE ARE BEING HONEST?!
Uh oh, mom has already taken care of it. She mailed this girl a photo of their family and explained that her husband had been lying to her and that she needs to be less trusting of people she talks to on the internet (good advice, if a weird letter to send). Dad is all “oh god, what have I done?”
EIGHT WEEKS LATER.
Dad is kissing the girls goodnight so I guess he’s sleeping in the house again? Oh wait, he’s sleeping in the garage a daughter expositions for us.
Mom is on the computer and she is the slowest typist in the world. Hunt and peck, hunt and peck. She asks him if the couch in the garage is okay and he says that he’s just happy to be under the same roof as the family. She is trying to be polite but her face tells a different story.
At work her friend Courtney Cox brings in some flowers and they’re from Thomas- it’s their anniversary and she forgot. She gets home to see him in the yard playing with the girls and the dog but she doesn’t join them.
He keeps trying to avoid the warming glow of the laptop. He says out loud “just a few hands, no internet” as he picks up his laptop. He knows that the online poker site is on the internet, right?
Ooops, he’s been blocked from this table. Does that mean his friends have unfriended him? He doesn’t seem to get what’s happening but he sees talhotblond is logged in so he requests a chat. She is all “I can’t believe you came back after all the lies.” They have a really gross conversation where he is all “Tommy really loved you, I never lied about that.” Except that Tommy didn’t exist… ugh, log off this stupid chat room before your wife leaves you.
They decide to stay friends- why? Why does a teenage girl in Indiana need a 47 year old friend with a family? Also, why does this guy speak out loud everything he types?
At work his young friend is all “I’ve been chatting with Katie a lot lately, I just wanted you to know” and it’s implied that everyone knows about his creepy online persona and double life but no one explicitly says it. He says maybe he’ll play a few hands tonight.
Oh god, he literally logs into a game that talhotblond is playing with his friends and the young friend is making jokes and he loses it and asks her into a private chat where he FREAKS on her and calls her a tramp and says that his friend is a terrible person.
Good lord, this poor teenage girl (who is or is not real) can’t catch a break from this dude. He slams his computer shut in anger. What does she mean that he will regret it? Also, he doesn’t realize at all that he is way creepier than his young friend. That guy is single and dating and dad fucking hates him for it.
Wife comes out to the garage and points out that it’s really hot and he can sleep inside if he would like to. He comes inside and they sleep in the same bed again. All he can do is imagine his friend making out with his teenager and he gets so angry he can’t sleep.
It’s been months of him not even going online- why is he so crazy?
At work he overhears his young friend talking about how much he likes this girl and how she’s not like the other girls. He doesn’t say anything terrible about her and yet…
THOMAS BEATS THE SHIT OUT OF HIM! He’s all “I heard what you said about her!” Even though he said fairly standard stuff.
Young friend is all “you’re obsessed with something that’s not even real, you made it up!” and that’s fairly astute. Thomas yells “SHE’S JUST A KID!!!” But he wanted to bone her so is she a kid or isn’t she? He still beat the shit out of him, what a looney toon.
The boss walks in and is all “you’re skating on thin ice… and you know I have a teenage daughter.” Thomas now knows that everyone knows about his obsession with this teenager. Gross. How freaking embarrassing.
Now he drives down the street screaming and hitting his door and then he logs onto the poker site just to chat with Katie. He asks her something and she doesn’t answer so he LOSES HIS MIND and starts calling her a whore and hitting his car some more and screaming. Logs off.
He calls his wife and says that he’s working a double shift and she asks if she can leave early and Courtney Cox says she’ll cover. He says he has a surprise for her.
The surprise so far is him going to a lake and throwing his laptop in it and then getting all his fatigues on, putting together a rifle and then going and killing his young friend. That IS a surprise.
He tosses his rifle in the lake and then goes home like a normal dad. He’s all “let’s go camping this weekend!” That’s what he says the surprise is.
Wife is all “are you okay?” and he says “yeah, this is better than I’ve felt in a long time.” That is some scary shit.
He says he wants one more time together as a family and this doesn’t send her spidey sense up. She thinks he’s being cute. So they go camping.
He’s all “do you think the girls are asleep?” And then it’s clear that it’s boner time, baby and they do it. End scene.
They are so happy at the lake while his young friend sits dead in his truck, no one having found him. Young skateboarders skate through the parking lot and find the body so that’s that.
The police show up at Katie’s house since hers was the last number he dialed and she and her mom look surprised… confused? Does this mean that the girl was real all along. Okay, I stand corrected I guess.
The boss at the plant also looks shocked.
The family packs up their campsite and heads home but there is a police car outside. The cops are the worst actors ever. Mom is crying because the family loved his young friend. She’s all “he can’t be involved, we were camping all weekend” but she starts to get it when they say he fought his friend that morning at work.
He is all “I love you, I always have, don’t ever think I didn’t” which is basically like saying “I’m guilty! I did it!” but he’s crazy so what can you do. The daughters are crying.
Wait! One of the cops is from NYPD Blue I think?
HHHAAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAH, the best thing just happened. They showed Thomas a photo of the Tall Hot Blonde and it’s the mom of the teenaged daughter in the above photo.
Katie had never heard of any of these dudes and is a normal high school student. She’s like 45 and a housewife (and also the angel from Herman’s Head, fyi). The cops are all “you didn’t think you were the only one lying online did you?” HE IS HORRIFIED. Hahahaahahhaha, it’s not so funny when it’s done to you, is it? What was this woman going to do when the young friend showed up there? I am really curious what her end game was there.
I can’t believe this dude killed someone over a girl he messaged for a few months. Holy shit, the world is a crazy place.
Here is an article about the real crime. These were basically their real online names.
In real life it went on for two years (TWO YEARS). You can even read some of their letters in that article. They really thought they were teenagers when they wrote them, apparently. They really thought they were teenagers when they chatted in web speak, dear lord I can’t read that.
The epilogue of the movie says that he’s in jail for 20 years and his wife and daughters do not speak to him or see him. I can’t even imagine how the wife would start over after those 18 years. That is bananas. And, to top it all off, he killed a family friend who his wife and kids liked.
I am also very curious what the teenager of the woman who was chatting as her thinks… that has to be bizarre. Learning that your mom has put up photos of you in bikinis in chat rooms to seduce men.
Such a creepy story from all angles. Put these lessons in your pockets as you voyage into online dating, friends.