Review: Overnight

Direced by: Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith

This documentary should be labeled a cautionary tale. It should be mandatory viewing for every single film school student and should most definitely be required viewing for every wanna be film geek who wants to break into the movie biz.
This is one of the most riveting and jaw-dropping documentaries I've seen in a really long time. If your unfamiliar with it, it centers around Troy Duffy. He's the bartender who wrote a screenplay back in 1996 called "The Boondock Saints". It hit the rounds and became one of the most sought after scripts on the market. Bear in mind, on paper, "Saints" reads amazing and coulda been something truly remarkable as a film. But we'll get back to that later. A bidding war ensued between the major studios and ultimately Miramax won. Duffy sold the script for a whopping $300,000 and he became an instant celebrity. The poster boy for the rags to riches in Hollywood story. Hence the title "Overnight". But, just as fast as this guy rose to the top of the Hollywood food chain, he came falling harder and faster than a freight train without breaks. It is truly remarkable how fast this guy was single handedly able to fuck up a once in a lifetime opportunity so drastically and so quickly. Not just for him, but his long suffering posse of musicians and filmmakers.

So here's an overview. He's a foul mouthed and chain smoking bartender who wrote the screenplay for The Boondock Saints during his breaks. He's also in a band with his brother and 2 friends called The Brood. The Brood is there most important aspect of all there lives. It's what they are most passionate about, hoping one day to score a record deal. That all changes though once his script hits Hollywood and he's the toast of the town. Right from the beginning though you see this guy is an asshole. Like a major asshole. He doesn't give a fuck about anyone or anything. It's his way or the highway and he makes sure to point that out loudly and often. He's got ambitions, but he also has the biggest ego on the planet. He's also the ringleader of the group. But that's just his personality. He comes across like he's the don of a mafia family. Always giving speeches to his friends about how there's nothing more important than respect and friendship. Unfortunately he doesn't practice what he preaches because when it's all over, he's managed to royally screw over every single person in his life whether it be a friend, family member or business associate. He doesn't care if he's talking to studio heads, prospective actors, lawyers or whoever. He talks to everybody like they are beneath him and constantly states that they will all be kneeling before him and begging to work for him one day. You get immediately that he thinks he's the next undiscovered talent waiting to be discovered. Basically the next Quentin Tarantino. He probably saw the success of Pulp Fiction and what it did for Tarantino that he thought he could do better. Uuumm, he didn't. You have to realize also that this guy looks like he fell off the back of a garbage truck. He constantly wears overalls. Always dirty looking and always unshaven. He drinks and swears like a fish and smokes more cigarettes than Robert De Niro in "Casino".

Immediately after selling his script, he becomes a problem. With selling the script, he negotiated into the contract that he would also be the director and have final decisions on casting and the final cut. Something truly unheard of in the world of filmmaking with first time writer/directors. Things immediately fall south as he becomes demanding, flamboyant, arrogant and alienates literally everyone around him.
It's pretty hilarious when immediately after they start getting to know this guy, the studio heads who so passionately championed this man in the beginning, just stop accepting his calls and any correspondence.
Though he's an ass for the entirety of the movie, the scene that most amused me was when he was asked to speak at a film school to aspiring filmmakers. Kind of like a Q&A for the students, because at that time he was hot property in Hollywood. It's simply hilarious and completely uncomfortable at the same time. Here he is in a room full of film students who are so passionate about the art, so excited and exhilarated to have this real life Hollywood script writer in the same room with them, and he's a complete arrogant and grumpy ass. Instead of inspiring them and giving them any kind of hope of making it in the business, the students all basically tell him how they can't believe how unhappy and ungrateful he is. That he should be appreciative to have this once in a lifetime opportunity and he seems like he just doesn't care. He even starts taunting this poor dude who's just sitting there minding his own business, not uttering one single word. He just happened to be unlucky enough to be in the front row and in the line of fire of this guy. You really feel for the guy because Duffy starts picking on him and he doesn't know what to say. Even the teacher is speechless.

While all of this is going on he's also trying to get his band The Brood off the ground. In the negotiation he was also able to secure the band to do the soundtrack for the film. To any other person on the planet, this deal sounds like a godsend. Like all of there dreams are finally going to come true. Because remember, it's not just him involved here, it's also his brother and posse of band mates and friends. Two of these friends are also documenting everything that happens from the moment he got signed, turning it into this documentary here. So these two guys, Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith, are also the unofficial band managers. So they are also in front of the camera as much as they are behind it. So from the time the script gets sold to the time that it actually gets made, months and then years go by. This is because of Duffy's refusal to cooperate with any of the studio big wigs and his constant taunts of how everyone on the planet should beg him to work with them. During this period nobody is getting paid, except Duffy with his fat $300 grand paycheck in his pocket. He keeps giving speeches and making promises on a constant basis to his posse. And it's pretty hilarious how they all just hang on his every word. I don't know if it's because they are clueless or if they are just scared of the guy, because he's intimidating and has a pretty nasty tempr, often exploding into a volatile rage at the drop of a hat.
Inevitably, the studio drops him. A record company that signed his band dropped them. The movie gets made, but for less than half of what Miramax was set to spend on it. None of the actors he demanded to have in his film wanted to do it. When it's finally completed, no distributor at Cannes wanted to touch his film. In Hollywood, he basically became blacklisted. He loses his bar. He loses his friends. The movie he constantly claimed would change the way they would make movies could not get a distributor and ultimately released. The band he claimed would change the face of music sold less that 700 copies of there CD when released. And he ran through his $300,000 script money till he had nothing. Basically becoming a failure in every sense of the word. Simply all because of his arrogance and his massive ego. I love the last shot of the documentary. It's of him standing in front of a bar outside, basically a doorman or bouncer. That's what he has become.

I have to say, while I quite enjoy "The Boondock Saints"; even going recently to a special 1 Night screening with a buddy at our local theater to see it, it's not a game changer or revolutionary in any way. Even had it been given to a top notch director, while it could have been much better, I don't think it's great. It's no Pulp Fiction. I mention that because Tarantino's film came out a few years earlier and he was another rags to riches in Hollywood story about a video rental clerk who made his first movie "Reservoir Dogs" to critical acclaim and then followed that up by the actual (game-changer) Pulp Fiction. That film literally influenced thousands of filmmakers and honestly did change the way movies are made. That story has a completely different ending though as most people will tell you, Tarantino is anything but an ego maniac. His story has a happy ending.

The Boondock Saints did end up getting released theatrically to a very limited amount of theaters, like 500 or something like that, and for only one week. It only found it's audience on the home video market and has since become a certified cult classic, and deservedly so. It's not amazing, but it's got all the markings of a cult film. It did not make it's budget back and Troy Duffy unfortunately received no money from the home video sales, as per his contract. So he made nothing off of this film. I read somewhere though that years later he sued the studio or something and he did ultimately negotiate to receive some kind of compensation for it. But the number is undisclosed.

And it's funny that I came across this documentary. I had always wondered who was the guy who made that "Saints" movie and whatever happened to him? He made that one movie that seemed pretty hip and that was it? Why didn't he make anything else and why ins't his name all over the place? Where did he go? Well, now I know.

Special Note:
As I write this I do know that exactly 10 years later he did end up making "The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day", his only other film. How or why anybody would want to ever deal with this guy and give him money to make another movie is beyond me. I do own the sequal, but I still have yet to see it. I will now after seeing this documentary for sure.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry man, only just got around to reading this. Absolutely agree, it's a gripping documentary - mostly because of what an A$$ Duffy is.

    I've got to say that what I find really odd is that Weinstein saw potential in Duffy's early script. I mean the Boondocks film is fun but it's also monumentally sloppy too - from a script perspective, it breaks a million rules (and not in a good way). I guess Weinstein just liked the title and the premise and thought he could get a script doctor to knock it into shape.