The Boyfriend of the Week

April 7, 2009 [comment on this write-up]

Before I say anything at all -- whatsoever! -- about this week's Boy-Who-Is-A-Friend, I want to make sure we're all on the same page. I have renamed the site temporarily from "Boyfriend of the Week" to "Boy-Who-Is-A-Friend of the Week" because this week's write-up is about a kid who was born, good lord, in the year 19-frakkin'-90.

I can't believe I just wrote that sentence.

Because did you hear that? I said, NINETEEN-NINETY, people! That means he's, like, TWELVE years old.

Effectively, anyway.

Now, as most of you know, I have long had a rule on this site wherein I wouldn't feature anybody as a Boyfriend who was born in the 1980's, and though I've occasionally made an exception, especially now that those born in the early '80's can buy beer legally (try not to think about that, fellow 30+somethings), I mostly stick to it because, whew, that is quite a generational difference. Born in the decade where I spent most of my formative years? I mean, if you don't vividly remember the first cassette tape you ever owned (Hall & Oates, H2O, yo), I can't see our conversation getting very far, know what I mean?

But 1990? I was in high school in 1990, which means I'm technically old enough to be Dev Patel's mother. For me, at age 30+something, that makes him off-limits in terms of Boyfriendliness. When I'm Demi Moore's age, maybe we can revisit the issue.

For a couple of weeks, I fought the urge to make Dev a Boyfriend of the Week for this very reason, which is why there was an extra-lengthy delay between write-ups again. But then it hit me -- I don't have to make him a BOYFRIEND of the Week. It's my damn web site, after all. And that's when I came up with Boy-Who-Is-A-Friend of the Week instead. Problem solved! Because, like, hello! ADORABLE!! And also, BRILLIANT! And also, CUTEST EARS SINCE BARACK OBAMA! Where there is a will, there is always a way. Especially when you are in charge.

How's this for cool? I can actually tell you the exact date and time I saw Dev for the first time. It was on February 3, 2009 at 8:17pm, when Dev was introduced as Jon Stewart's guest on that night's episode of The Daily Show (watch here!). When Jon first said his name, I had no idea who he was. But then they showed a clip from his film, and I made the connection. See, I'd been hearing the buzz about Dev's movie, Slumdog Millionaire, for a couple of weeks by then, and I was interested in seeing it, but not in any real hurry or anything. I wanted to see it not because it had gotten rave reviews (please, so did Forrest Gump, and we all know how THAT turned out -- stupid Academy), and certainly not because it starred a cute young lad named Dev Patel (because, like, Dev WhoWhatNow?). But instead because I knew it was directed by Danny Boyle, and Danny Boyle is, to put it mildly, AN ABSOLUTE FRAKKING GENIUS.

To wit: Danny Boyle once directed a movie entitled Alien Love Triangle AND got Kenneth "I am Hen-er-ry the Fifth, I am" Branaugh to star in it. The man's totally my hero.

So, anyway, when I heard "the main guy" from Slumdog was going to be on The Daily Show, I was glad not because I was curious about Dev, but because I was curious about the film itself.

Thing is, I went from "curious about the film itself because Danny Boyle is a cinematic god" to "Danny Boyle is a cinematic g. . . Holy Mary, Mother of Pete, this kid is adorable!" in exactly 12.2 seconds flat. I timed it. No really, I totally timed it. It was 12.2 seconds FLAT, people.

Here's how he won me over -- Dev Patel, seemingly coming out of the middle of nowhere, despite the fact he'd been one of the stars for two years on a pretty successful British TV show named Skins, bopped onto the set of The Daily Show, sat down across from Jon Stewart, and grinned with the biggest ear-to-ear grin I have ever seen. You could tell IMMEDIATELY that he was both stunned and thrilled to be there. And yet, he was also absolutely the King of Coolness and Charm. (The KING, I tell you!) Go watch the clip -- you'll see what I mean.

Seriously -- go watch it right now. I'll wait.

SEE WHAT I MEAN? He bounces out there, smiles this big grin, says, "Cheers, guys!" to the audience, and then most-adorably, sort of fails to get Jon's Oscar joke and manages to look even cuter than I ever thought possible in the process. And I say that despite the fact I am the aunt of THIS CHILD, who is so insanely adorable I feel quite certain his parents broke some obscure law of physics when he was conceived, because otherwise, how could you possibly explain the utterly OBSCENE levels of cuteness on display in that face?

Anyway, needless to say, I was won over immediately. The grin, the sparkles in his eyes, the easygoing manner, the confidence, and man-oh-man, the ears. I love the ears.

In any case, that interview with Dev immediately pushed Slumdog to the top of my "movies I really wanna see now" list. Unfortunately, simple listage is not always enough, and I didn't end up having a chance to see it until about six weeks later, when I boarded a flight to DC and shelled out the ten bucks for the Dig-E-Player movie-list-sight-unseen, figuring surely there'd be at least ONE damn movie on that damn thing that I'd want to watch. Sure, my track record on this is incredibly bad. After all, there was that one time I flew to Boston and also rented the Dig-E-Player without checking the movie list first, and thus ended up paying ten whole dollars to watch that schmitty remake of The Omen.

When The Omen remake is the best of all available options, you know you are going to have a really bad flight. Which explains why that was the last time I bothered with the damn thing until this trip came up.

Luckily, this time my gamble paid off, as there was, indeed, exactly one damn movie on that damn thing I wanted to see: Slumdog Millionaire.

The nice thing about watching Slumdog on an airplane is that it is completely engrossing and time flies like an arrow (fruit flies:banana) while you're watching it. But the bad thing about watching Slumdog on an airplane is that it's damn hard to hear on an airplane in general, which means I missed some of the dialogue, and the screen is also quite teeny tiny, which means Dev Patel's ears are disappointingly likewise.

Nevertheless, it was workable, and by the time the end credits rolled, I was madly, madly in Boy-Who-Is-A-Friend-Crush with Dev. And also quite impressed with myself, as it's not often that I end up absolutely loving a movie that everybody else already absolutely loved. Usually, I'm more of a pain in the butt than that.

For I am unique. Just like evvvvvverybody else.

Slumdog Millionaire opens with a young Indian man, Jamal Malik (our hero Dev), being declared a millionaire on the Indian version of the game show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. It's an incredible rags-to-riches story -- Jamal's day job is sort of the Indian equivalent of a barista, after all (he's a "chai wallah," or tea vendor) -- and the audience is clearly madly in love with him and his stunning success. Unfortunately, the game show host and the local cops don't feel the same enthusiasm, and Jamal is arrested as soon as he steps off the set.

The cops begin by torturing him, convinced he's just cheated his way to the top. But when Jamal consistently insists he knew the answers, they decide to change strategies. They get a tape of the episode, sit Jamal down in front of it, and pause the machine after every question, ordering Jamal to tell them exactly HOW he knew the correct answer, one at a time.

Each explanation takes us back in time to Jamal's youth, growing up in the slums of Mumbai. His mother was killed when Jamal and his brother Salim were just little kids, leaving them to fend for themselves in the soul- and sole-sucking mud and poverty of the local slum. There, they meet a young girl about their age, Latika, and the three quickly become friends, bonding together as much for the sake of their own survival as for camaraderie.

As Jamal takes the police through each of the stories that led to each of the bits of information that led to each of his correct answers, we watch as the children grow up, primarily surviving by stealing and conning people (I loved their shoe scheme, by the way -- genius!), and struggle to get themselves out of the slums. More than that, I don't really want to tell you, because part of the delight of this film for me was going into it with virtually no sense of what it was about, and then getting to discover it frame by frame, story by story. This movie ran me through just about every emotion there is -- fear, anger, love, sadness, joy, exhilaration, despair. It's absolutely, completely dazzling.

To be honest, when it was over, I had a really hard time letting go of it. I thought about this film for days and days after I saw it, and I've been dying to see it again ever since (luckily, I won't have to die much longer (?), as I ordered it from Amazon.com yesterday). This is a movie I know I will get even more out of a second, third, fourth time through. And it's been quite a while since I saw a film that made me think that way.

In any case, I turned in my Dig-E-Player at the end of the flight with reluctance, and it was mostly because I just didn't feel quite ready to let Jamal Malik -- and Dev Patel -- go. Because, as it turns out, not only is Dev hellaciously cute, he's also just ridiculously talented. I believed in Jamal Malik. I believed his story. I believed his relationships and his behavior and his hope and his struggles and his pain and his determination. By the halfway point, Jamal was as real to me as the woman sitting next to me on the airplane (although, thankfully, he was also about 10,000 times less annoying). Dev is absolutely wonderful in this movie. Go rent it. Right now. Seriously.

I'll wait.

Eager to see what Dev was like in other things, I also managed to track down a few episodes of the aforementioned British TV series he costarred in a few years ago -- a show called Skins that is sort of a modern-day 90210 for English people. In Skins, Dev plays a kid named Anwar, who is the only Muslim amongst his group of friends at high school. He is, of course, insanely cute (he's also completely obsessed with sex, though, which was a bit *squick* for me considering he's my Boy-Who-Is-A-Friend). But even though it's certainly not TERRIBLE, I confess I didn't really get hooked on Skins. If you are curious, you can find the pilot and a few other episodes from the first two seasons on You Tube (I think I just searched for "Skins season 1" -- try that). The first two seasons are also available on Netflix.

And hey, if you're a fan of the show, tell me if you think I should try it again (and why), and I'll reconsider my lack of interest in pursuing it further.

In the meantime, I'll just sit back and wait for my copy of Slumdog to arrive in the mail. And then I'll watch it again. And then I'll make my husband watch it. And then I'll make my sister watch it. And then I'll make my mother watch it. And then I'll make complete strangers I run into on street corners watch it.

Oh yeah, by the way? Slumdog Millionaire won eight Academy Awards this year, including the awards for Best Picture and Best Director. Almost enough to make me forgive them giving Forrest Gump Best Pic instead of Pulp Fiction.

ALMOST, BUT NOT QUITE.

Idiots.

MacGyver Factor Score: 97.29545%. Points off for being way, WAY too young for me. Points back for being over six feet tall, which will help me feel a lot less cradle-robby when I'm 55 and he's, like, 19, and we finally go out on our first date.

NINETEEN FREAKIN' NINETY? I'm going straight to hell for this.


Boyfriend-Related Links

Dev's IMDb page
Official Slumdog site
Official Skins site
Slumdog movie trailer
Interview with Dev from New York Magazine


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