Stick with me, this is a long one. Much to discuss. Very infrequently am I right when watching previews and predicting whether the movie will be good or bad. I’ve really only be right twice that I can remember. I knew by the previews of “No Country for Old Men” that the film would win the Oscar for best picture that year. In the same vein, I knew “The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day” would be terrible.
For the most part when it comes to “The Boondock Saints” (the first one) and its writer/director Troy Duffy, there are really only two schools of people. The first school is comprised of a bunch of drooling, adoring, ravenous, bloodthirsty nitwits who believe Duffy is a genius and “The Boondock Saints” is the greatest film ever made. The second school of people believes Duffy is, in fact, a turd capable of intelligent speech, and his film is a steaming pile of garbage.
Now, certainly there are people who didn’t enjoy “Boondock” who don’t think it’s the worst film ever, and have no feelings one way or the other about Duffy. On the other side of the coin, there are people who enjoyed the film, but don’t think it’s brilliant, and have never even heard of Troy Duffy. However, these latter two groups seem to make up an incredibly small percentage of people who have seen “Boondock”. We never really hear about the “gray area” people. I, for one, seem to run into only the haters, and ravenous lunatics of Duffy and his film.
More often than not, Troy Duffy cannot be mentioned without mentioning also a little documentary called “Overnight”. The doc’ chronicles Duffy’s rise in Hollywood, the making of “Boondock”, Duffy’s band and their record deal, and the subsequent collapse of it all. In the documentary Duffy displays hostility toward just about everyone in his life. His ego is out of control nearly every second he’s awake, and I’m fairly certain there isn’t a person in the doc’ he doesn’t piss off at one point or another.
For the haters of Duffy and his film, the “Overnight” documentary is their go-to piece of evidence for supporting their views. Anyone who hates “Boondock” almost immediately asks the question, “Have you seen ‘Overnight’?” This is typically their only evidence that Duffy and his film both suck. For those who love Troy and “Boondock”, they immediately dismiss “Overnight”, and blame the whole debacle on then Miramax co-CEO Harvey Weinstein. Even more common among the lovers is…they’ve never even heard of “Overnight”.
As for my thoughts on “Overnight”, it sucks. Not completely, but mostly. It’s gotten a lot of praise but in my opinion, as a documentary, it doesn’t work. It’s the most one-sided piece of revenge material I have probably ever seen. It’s incredibly deceptive and misleading. It presents Troy’s failures, and that’s about it. It’s the story of his collapse. It can’t really be called a documentary at all. In my opinion, the job of a documentary is to present all available sides of a topic, and let the viewer decide what’s what. That doesn’t happen here. Clearly, the filmmakers set out to make Duffy look nuts (even though they deny this), and most people swallowed it hook, line and sinker. Another failure of this documentary is there isn’t enough revelation of how things fell apart for Duffy. We’re just made to believe it happened he is crazy.
What most people don’t even consider is, yeah this documentary is very revealing and whatever but, what about the good stuff? What about all the stuff Duffy did that was obviously correct? Correct enough that he was able to make his movie? None of that stuff is in the documentary at all. The filmmakers had their cameras rolling all the time; surely they captured the good stuff on film as well. Duffy made “Boondock” on his terms, end of story. That takes skill after falling the way he did. I’m not debating the guy’s an egomaniac, or at the very least has issues, but he did enough correctly that he got things done his way. That’s something that seems to go over people’s heads all too often.
As a study of psychology, and what success can do to a person, I must give “Overnight” a big thumb up; it’s tough to watch this guy’s world fall apart. It’s so tough at times it doesn’t seem real. This cat had everything handed to him, and one way or another blew it. As a study of how not to act toward people giving someone a dream career, again, this doc’ knocks it out of the park. The proof is right there in Duffy’s actions. Now, don’t take this as a defense of Duffy on my part. That’s not what I’m doing. I’m trying simply to bring to light things a lot of people seem to miss. I’m not smarter than the average bear, so I’m surprised at how closed-minded most people are on both sides of the argument usually. I’m saying if I can pick this stuff up, why aren’t other people doing so also?
Now, at long last it’s time for me. Where do I fall in this mess? I can say with complete honesty I feel I don’t belong to either of the two major schools of thought. I believe I am one of the few. More often than not I find myself on the fence about the subject, and rather alone. I never really liked or hated Duffy, though I do find him interesting. Again, with complete honesty, I can say I am truly in the gray area with the first film. I don’t despise it – it’s moderately enjoyable, but I certainly don’t hail it a masterpiece or Duffy a genius either. I can answer the following questions: Is “Boondock” the greatest film ever? HA HA! No. Is Troy Duffy a genius? Probably not. Is “Boondock” a pile of shit, or the worst thing ever? No, on both counts. Is Duffy a worthless schmuck? No, and I’ll explain why later.
On to the actual movie: “The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day”. It’s a mess. I can say unequivocally it is pretty frigging terrible. The acting is deplorable. Everyone in this movie sucked so badly I couldn’t believe my eyes. The story is decent, but the screenplay is flat-out awful, and poorly written. The translation of the screenplay to the screen is done faithfully, but that isn’t a good thing. The movie even comes complete with a direct-to-video style title. “The Boondock Saints II”, or “All Saints Day” would have worked fine; no need for both.
First: the acting. As I said, everyone in this movie sucked. The acting is so staggeringly bad I don’t know how someone didn’t notice. Just about everyone falls victim to overacting, and they come off as entirely unbelievable as the characters. Most everyone is guilty of “indicating” as well – showing the actor knows something before their character is supposed to – and it comes off bad, and is painful to watch.
Sean Patrick Flannery and Norman Reedus are two guys I like so the following statement isn’t easy for me to make: they were awful. Their Irish accents weren’t exactly authentic in the first “Boondock” but in the sequel, my god, what on Earth happened? They sound so unnatural and different from the first time around it’s hard to believe these are the same actors. The addition of Clifton Collins Jr. was a big mistake because he didn’t deliver at all. Again, this is a guy I enjoy seeing normally. I’ve liked him in just about everything he’s done since “187”. Here, he just stunk every second he was on screen.
The remaining supporting cast is just as bad. I don’t have much to say about Billy Connolly because he’s not in the movie a great deal. Julie Benz was a sexy addition, but I’m too used to seeing her on the TV show “Dexter”. She didn’t do well enough to shake her image as her character on TV. Her southern accent was pretty bad as well. When the best performance in the movie comes from comedian Bob Marley, perhaps that should send up a red flag.
Next: the story and screenplay. As I said, the story is decent. That is to say: the idea, the premise of the whole thing is decent. The screenplay itself is just awful. It’s difficult to believe the guy who wrote the first screenplay wrote this as well. And yes, I have read both of them quite thoroughly.
Though the first film is mediocre, the screenplay is quite good, very good in fact. Sure that’s my opinion, but this is the same screenplay that made Harvey Weinstein, one of the most powerful men in Hollyweird, shoot in his pants and offer Duffy a million dollar deal. The first screenplay is very well done. It’s well crafted, it’s engaging, it’s tense, and dramatic. It also brings up some very important questions: do we/should we kill bad people? When is enough, enough? Is there justification in taking the law into our own hands and killing an evil person for a greater good? Answer however, but these are important, and very relevant questions in my opinion. So really, this is everything a screenplay should be. Duffy didn’t do the best job taking it from the page to the screen, but that’s another issue.
The screenplay to the second movie is terrible. It’s everything the first screenplay isn’t. It’s put together poorly: like building a huge heavy barn with Elmer’s Glue. The screenplay is boring, uninteresting, and just stupid. If this had been Duffy’s first script, and he’d showed it to Weinstein, I would hope, he would have laughed Duffy out of the office. The second screenplay appears to be what Duffy thought it should be, as opposed to just letting it be whatever it would have been. It’s overworked, over thought, uninspired, and just bad. Whatever magic entered Duffy’s body for the first screenplay was not in any way present during the writing of the second. As I said above, the translation of the screenplay to the screen for the second movie is very faithful, but that isn’t a good thing. What is seen on screen is nearly verbatim of what’s in the screenplay. Duffy must not be aware that it’s okay to make changes. The dialogue is horrible; the jokes are too prolific and not funny at all. There were a few good moments in the first movie in terms of laughter, but the second one swings and misses every single time.
The better the screenplay, the better the directing and everything else is allowed to be. I bring this up because “everything else” in the sequel is bad. The screenplay is the foundation everything is built on, so it’s no surprise to see bad acting, bad directing, and so on when one considers what everyone had to work with here.
It’s not very often someone who fell as hard as Duffy gets a second chance, especially in the ‘Wood. It’s surprising to me he would screw up this chance the way he did. Perhaps, this second chance speaks to Duffy’s pit bull attitude of grabbing something and not letting go. After all, this guy fell but still made his first movie on his terms, made his band’s album on his terms, got screwed on the distribution and monetary rights of the first movie, then managed to sue everyone who screwed him and win. Then, he comes back for a second go around, pretty impressive. But, perhaps a lot of what drove the second movie to be made was the success of the first. Who knows?
A lot of this second movie seems to be Duffy’s “ha, I told you so” to the film industry. The opening lines spoken by Rocco, I feel, illustrate this more than anything. Rocco says something to the effect of “There are two kinds of people: talkers and doers. In the end it’s the doers who change the world, the rest is just coffee house bullshit”. Sure, we can say Rocco is talking about the two brothers in the movie, but I believe this is really a sly little jab from Duffy, which says, “I don’t sit around sipping coffee and talking crap, I made two movies. Screw you”.
My final thought, die-hard fans of the first of the first won’t be disappointed by the second. Those who hated the first will hate the second even more. For people such as myself, we’ll just be left confused.