The number of people in Hollywood and other centers of entertainment who have
scripts they've written and would like to see turned into movies are exceeded
only by those with ideas and no script. To actually land a deal with the
paid promise of actual production is a minor miracle. For it to happen to
someone with no prior film experience or track record is the land of
Yet a West Hollywood bartender named Troy Duffy landed such a deal, and with
the producing luminary Harvey Weinstein of Miramax Films, no less. Real
people, real deal. $300,000 is mentioned as the likely payment for "The
Boondock Saints" script, with the addition of Duffy directing and producing,
for his band to do the soundtrack, and for Weinstein to buy the bar in which
he works and for them to be co-owners.
Duffy uses some of the money to start a documentary showing him on his path to
Hollywood glory. This is that film, made by pals Mark Brian Smith and Tony
Montana and culled from 350 hours of shooting and a variety of formats. As a
document of a real, legitimate overnight success, you might expect it to be
called that. The fact that the title is a truncation of the expression is a
clue to its outcome.
It seems that the only one who isn't awed by his conquest of show biz is Troy
Duffy himself. He's the type who sees it as his right, a development in his
life that was inevitable through his sheer genius and just due. He proceeds
to demand devotion and idolization by family, friends and band mates,
expecting them to continue to work on their album in the expectation of a
future payoff. In short, he acts out like a ranting MGM mogul. The only
thing missing is the cigar.
But, all is not well in tinsel town. Weinstein seems to be backing off on
his commitments, giving duffy the first inkling that his rosy and boisterous
expectations might be experiencing a snag. When Miramax drops the project,
he goes from the A-list to blacklist. A financier comes to the rescue with a
budget to make the film at around half the initial budget. With that,
Duffy actually manages to put a cast together that includes high-wattage
talent like Willem Dafoe and Billy Connolly. Impressive.
When he agrees to appear before a class of film students, and they seem to be
challenging him on his lack of appreciation over his good fortune, he cuts
them off and, in private, disdains them as a whole. But then, that's his
To market the film, Duffy takes it to Cannes to look for a distributor
and comes up empty. Somewhere in here you might get the idea that Weinstein
backed out because he realized the script had something to be desired. From
what we see of the production, a story about vigilantism, the term "schlock"
comes to mind, but you really can't tell from a few cuts. A better guide
is the fact that when it finally found a distributor, it played in a total of
five theatres and went to DVD. Now, if you really want to see for yourself,
go buy it. "The Boondock Saints" is only $11.24 on Amazon (subject to
In the end, our classless, clueless, deflated hero goes back to the bar, his
valiantly loyal musicians rebel and disband, and the documentary is completed
with a final act that might seem to justify the efforts and cost of recording
it. The thing about it that rises to the extraordinary is how it witnesses
in stark detail all the pomposity of a lucky nobody who can't appreciate a
rare piece of good fortune, the emotional effects that ripple from his
swaggering ego to best friends and supporters, and the final icy wakeup to
One can only surmise that the bartender's main mistake was to allow the
recording of his sad story as it unfolded--a misjudgement that might recall
Nixon's design to aggrandize himself and his place in history by taping his
conversations. And, that's exactly what makes this little picture work.
It's a study in just deserts.
But, perhaps the biggest question arises over what might have been in
Harvey Weinstein's mind when he initiated the debacle. Did he like Duffy's
story, or the style with which it was written? Did he see in it the
potentials of such of his projects as "Kill Bill", "Cold Mountain", "Chicago" or, even "Scary Movie 3?" Or did he see dollar
signs merely in the title, "Boondock Saints?" It's too bad we can't hold
him responsible for giving us the real story behind his decision-making
process. But then, if we knew that, we'd all be pitching him our scripts.
~~ Jules Brenner