Cinema Signal:

Writing, Directing, and Producing Documentary Films and Videos

. "Overnight"

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 make-believe.

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 way.

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 change).

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 puffed-up dreams.

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.

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                           ~~  Jules Brenner  

Opinion Section
Comments from readers:
Very well written
I've seen the movie and I agree with the review
Site rating: 5
                                                   ~~ Celeste S.
Well written, insightful
I've seen the movie and I agree with the review
Site rating: 5 The movie is laughable, although it starts well and has one or two decent early action scenes. Unfortunately it then spirals into a philosophical vigilante farce with neither the acting ability or insight to drag it out of it's self inflicted mire
                                                   ~~ Ben D.
I've seen the movie and I disagree with the review

i diagree i think they movie was amazing. it was full of action ,comedy, and i really liked the characters.

                                                   ~~ Veronica M.


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