It's a TV rule: Lifetime movies are at their best when they feature crazy homicidal types. By 'best' I mean 'most fun'; quality is secondary.
Although "Tallhotblonde" (8 tonight, Lifetime), qualitatively speaking, isn't low rent or anything. But the highlight is the potent creepy/sad/crazy mix that makes it a good, albeit predictable, Saturday night pick.
Based on a true story, the movie follows the adventures of Thomas Montgomery (Garret Dillahunt), a meek and mild-mannered middle-age working class guy and former Marine, married to Carol (Laura San Giacomo) and father of two daughters. Thomas grinds out a routine life; it's not horrid, just mind-numbingly ordinary. Indeed, Thomas' only pleasure is a monthly poker game with work buddies, including much younger Lothario Brian (Brando Eaton). And I mean ONLY pleasure: Thomas is so dead inside, he can't perform his husbandly duties in the bedroom.
It's at one of those poker games that the fellas introduce Thomas to the world of online poker. They give him a web address and that night he logs on for the first time. He almost instantly attracts the attention of "talhotblonde," a much younger hottie. Faster than you can type "statutory rape" Thomas is posing as Tommy, a younger version of himself -- a single, handsome buff Marine who is heading to Afghanistan. He falls madly in love with 'talhotblonde' or Katie, even performing um, solo, at the thought of their imagined meetings. (Sadly, Carol benefits from none of this excess energy.) The man even goes out and buys a laptop so he can have Katie time anytime he wants.
Eventually, Carol starts to notice that Thomas is getting a little wacky; the affair is uncovered and things really get bad.
Dillahunt plays Thomas like a compressed spring that never gets fully sprung; even when he eventually comes to life, there's not a full release. It's an odd performance but it works. San Giancomo's more expressive and perfectly downtrodden.
Actress Courteney Cox directs (and appears in a small but meaningful role) and it's a solid effort. But the premise upon which the film's built is a bit dated. Maybe a decade ago, this film might have surprised or been an effective cautionary tale. In today's social media landscape, when literally everybody and their mother is online, it seems more pathetic than sad, mostly because any dope could have figured out what Thomas didn't. But it's still a fun ride.