Runtime: 1 hr 55 min
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Tony Montana, Mark Brian Smith
Starring: Jeffrey Baxter, Emmanuelle Beart, Chris Brinker, Jake Busey, Gordon Clark, Billy Connolly, Willem Dafoe
Aspiring film-makers will watch this film with horror.
Review by: ShaneBurridge
Added: 8 years ago
Imagine this: you're an average working schmoe who is one of the many hopefuls writing screenplays and sending them off to Hollywood. Out of the blue, your screenplay is picked up by a major studio and you find yourself behind the camera, directing your script with a professional cast and crew. Your own rock band is recording the film's soundtrack, and is signed to a label. Oh, and as a bonus: why not have your own bar, thrown in for free?
By all rights, the resulting behind-the-scenes documentary, OVERNIGHT, should have been a feel-good story about an underdog getting his big break and proving that dreams do come true. Undoubtedly, this is what Troy Duffy, the screenwriter in question, had in mind when he asked a couple of his band members to follow him around with a camera. Unfortunately, it turned out to be another kind of film entirely. In Duffy we are presented with a man who not only spectacularly shoots himself in the foot, but nails said foot to the floor, sets fire to foot, and then dispatches heat-seeking missile towards foot. Aspiring film-makers will watch this film with horror - not so much of what Duffy does to himself, but of watching him fumble an opportunity they could only fantasize of having.
Duffy's success begins when Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein picks up his screenplay for a shoot-em-up gangster flick called THE BOONDOCK SAINTS and inexplicably gives the directorial reins to Duffy even though he has never made any kind of film before (this must be the moment in watching the documentary that film students start foaming at the mouth). From that point on, there can be only one word to describe the ensuing 90 minutes, and that is HUBRIS. On one hand, there is much to admire about the go-getting attitude of Duffy, who, despite never having had to deal with the Hollywood machine before, rolls up his sleeves (and puts on his overalls), and tackles the business head on. There's nothing wrong with being unafraid to play hardball with movie types, given the nature of the business, but Duffy takes it to extremes. The attention, money, and power bestowed upon him inflate an egomaniacal streak that is positively self-destructive. We're alerted to Duffy's dubious perspective on things quite early when he decides he wants Kenneth Branagh to star in his movie, without even considering the fact that he would be one of the most inappropriate actors he could cast (we're not entirely sure what kind of film THE BOONDOCK SAINTS is at this stage of the doco, but Shakespeare it definitely ain't). He gets an answering service, and Branagh immediately and permanently gets the shaft, in the kind of basic Anglo-Saxon that is located at the Point of No Return. Duffy wants De Niro (more suitable, but just as unrealistic), is then passed over by Patrick Swayze (further down the ladder), and eventually is offered rock guitarist Jon Bon Jovi ("I didn't even know the cat was an actor" Duffy squawks). As the film goes on, Duffy abuses and alienates nearly everyone he meets in the movie business and recording industry, including his friends and even family. By now, Weinstein has cut him loose. We still recognize that Duffy has some talent and tenacity, but a scene where he responds to his long-silent brother's opening up of his heart is the point where we realize he is irredeemable.
In spite of these difficulties, THE BOONDOCK SAINTS did get completed, only to vanish after an opening week in a handful of theaters - ironically, the resulting documentary OVERNIGHT ended up in film festivals and found a wider audience. For Duffy, watching this film must be like seeing a scab peeled off, but even he should admit that it made audiences around the world aware of his own movie, which may have otherwise been totally forgotten. Clearly, your reaction to OVERNIGHT rests squarely on your reaction to Duffy; and this may be tempered or tainted depending on whether you have seen his film THE BOONDOCK SAINTS or not. There have been other directors who would have served themselves better by keeping their mouths shut early in their careers (P T Anderson, Tarantino, and Baz Lurhmann come to mind) but they can at least turn out a cinematic product of some vision and talent. Can the Troy Duffy of OVERNIGHT be forgiven for what he achieved as the Troy Duffy of SAINTS? It's an interesting exercise to decide what to view first - the movie or the documentary - and see how the order of viewing might influence your reactions to both. SAINTS in itself isn't a badly made movie, but it's derivative, illogical, and ultimately superficial. Duffy himself doesn't even appear to have any great interest in cinema, showing contempt for everyone involved in the business, from the Cannes festival crowd to film student classes. It may be that as a writer-director, Duffy is a one-trick pony, and in light of his behavior in OVERNIGHT, it doesn't seem likely that he will get the opportunity to prove otherwise.