Friday, March 26, 2010

Zombie attacks: The perfect way to reassess your priorities. (Sweetie's Hunk of the Week, 55)

It's 6:32 am on Saturday morning. I'm listening to The Housemartins and wondering what I can possibly say about Hunk 55:

Ty Burrell!

You Don't Know Him Without You Have watched Modern Family or Dawn of The Dead, in each of which Ty Burrell has somehow managed to play the exact same person without either character being, actually, the same kind of person.

Ty played "that one guy who you just know is gonna get killed" in Dawn of the Dead, a movie Sweetie and I saw when we went on a fun but terribly exhausting and hunger-inducing vacation to Washington D.C. about 5 years ago. While it was a great weekend, in that we got away from everything and saw a bunch of sights, it also had the downside of involving far too much walking -- that part was my fault, as I tried to get Sweetie to see everything I'd seen in Washington when I'd lived there, the problem being that I had lived there for five months, while Sweetie and I were there for 72 hours or so. We ended up riding the Metro and walking from sight to sight on an exhausting marathon of tourism.

The second problem was that there's no place to eat in Washington. We stayed right downtown, not far from the White House, and there were literally no restaurants anywhere near us. There were no stores anywhere near us. There was no food anywhere near us. At one point, I went out to get breakfast for Sweetie and had to walk 7 blocks to find a McDonald's. Restaurants were so scarce that we mostly lived on the bag of candy Sweetie'd bought on the first day we were there.

While most of the weekend was spent tired and sore and hungry (and sightseeing), part of the weekend was spent at a movie theater watching Dawn of the Dead, in which Ty Burrell (remember him? He's why I'm writing this:

after all).(And, yes, technically, the above picture is inside that parentheses.)

(I believe that's a first: a parenthetical picture. I'm always the trendsetter.)

In Dawn Of The Dead, Ty Burrell played a guy who's name I can't remember,

but that doesn't matter, because how often, anyway, does the name of a character in a movie matter? Not very often. I can only think of one, really: Indiana Jones, and that's only because his name was occasionally in the title of his movies, so if the character wasn't named Indiana Jones, it would've been weird.

Even then, the name of the character didn't matter; those movies could've been called Harrison Ford And The Temple Of Doom, and it wouldn't have really changed things. In four movies, they only referred once to why Indy was called Indy, and then didn't explain why he'd taken the name of the dog (or why the dog was called Indiana.)

So Ty Burrell played Ty Burrell in Dawn Of The Dead, and he plays Ty Burrell as Phil, in Modern Family, and somehow, they're the same character even though Ty Burrell-but-not-Phil in Dawn of the Dead was this sort of effete, martini-drinking, arch character and Ty-Burrell-Phil on Modern Family is nothing like that, at all, only he is, and here's why:

I like to think of actor's roles as actually having been their lives -- so looking at a given actor, you can imagine that his life actually went that way, following the same arc and lives that his or her characters have.

Sometimes that works pretty well, like if you're looking at Ron Howard and you can imagine that little Opie actually grew up to live in Milwaukee and be friends with the Fonz and then get voiceover work on Arrested Development, or if you were looking at Jennifer Aniston and picturing Rachel going on to a series of high-profile but ultimately-disappointing relationships while still maintaining a brave face and positive outlook...

... um. Anyway.

Other times it doesn't work so well, because it's hard to understand why Tom Hanks would go to all that trouble to become a merman only to leave Darryl Hannah and live on an island with a volleyball, but you get the point.

So in Ty Burrell's case -- he is, after all, the point, here:

It actually works, pretty well, too, if you're looking at first his roles in Dawn of the Dead and then Modern Family, because you can picture Ty Burrell in Dawn of the Dead as being this kind of dissolute playboy, hanging on grimly to his single-man's lifestyle and trying to make it work, a caricature by now of what he'd hoped to be at this point, with his swinging and martinis and smooth jazz, but inside, he's dying a little each day and desperately lonely and sad and wants nothing more than a change of lifestyle, something to break him out of this... only he doesn't know it, until one day he wakes up and the world is overcome by an outbreak of zombies, and he goes through that whole Dawn of the Dead movie, let's say nearly dying, and afterwards, he realizes that's exactly where his life is heading, in a non-symbolic, quite literal way: continue his wastrel life and get eaten by zombies, so he marries Claire (who by then has divorced Ed and left New York, but doesn't want to go back to small-town teaching), and becomes Modern Family.

(The logline for that movie? Greenberg enters Zombieland.)

I have really lost the narrative thread of this post. I'm moving on.

Thing That Makes You Go Hmmm About Him: He knows what I think about him, which is that he actually looks evil and smarmy. If you look at Ty Burrell... let's do that:

... if you look at him, you don't think bumbling dad, or funny guy, you think person who has been sent here to determine which parts of my blood, exactly, this corporation is going to use to make billions while I languish in a dark room somewhere.

Ty Burrell knows that, too; he's said in interviews that he has an evil look, which was why, when I first heard that he was the bumbling dad on a comedy, I said "Him?"

Which is almost like Hmmmm, which means that in this case I almost literally -- almost-- actually said Hmmm about him.

Also, Ty Burrell didn't start acting until 2001, when he was 34 years old. Since that time, he's appeared in eleven movies, and six TV shows. He's also been on Broadway, and now he's starring on a hit TV show that was written for him.

I guess being attacked by zombies in a mall can really get a guy to jump-start his career. But if you're sitting around saying something like I'm 34, I can't go just change my career now, you should definitely call Ty Burrell, and see what he has to say about that.

Reason I Assumed Sweetie Liked Him:
I guessed that it had something to do with him being on Modern Family, perhaps... but I also suspected that there was some sort of Law & Order component to it, and in reviewing Ty Burrell's career, I saw that my secret hunches were right. Ty has been on not one, but two versions of Law & Order, back at the beginning of his career.

That takes us one step closer to the Law & Order-pocalypse, mind you.

Actual Reason Sweetie Likes Him: "He's really funny."

Point I'd Like To Make About Sweetie's Actual Reason For Liking Him: Sweetie, like many women, maintains that really funny, or a sense of humor, in any way factors in to women's choices about who's a hunk and who's not. Women are liars. Hunks don't get chosen on the basis of humor, no matter what Sweetie maintains. Hunks get chosen on the basis of hunkiness. Women might marry a guy who's funny or a good provider, because some women are smart enough to realize that hunkiness fades and eventually you're going to want someone who can tell a good joke about how bald he is, but that doesn't stop women from swooning over Hunks, and that swooning is never over funny, it's over this:

Or this:

Although he's actually pretty funny, too. Which is understandable: You survive a zombie attack, you'll learn to look at the bright side of life, too.

1 comment:

Renaissance said...

Hm..Till your entry, that one was "That unpleasant guy that will be probably eaten by zombies", or more accurately, "that one that you´d push to the zombies to quicken your flight because he´s been a moron all the time".