After seeing Pulp Fiction as an awestruck 17-year-old, I decided to write my first screenplay. It consisted of me and my friend Dave driving to commit a crime that was not the recovery of Marcellus Wallace’s briefcase while having a pop culture laden conversation that was not about what they call hamburgers in Europe. I even had the music for the opening credits picked out: an instrumental version of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabatoge” (apparently that was the 1994 version of “Misirlou”). About 10 years later, I saw The Boondock Saints for the first time and thought, “Wow, this is pretty similar to the piece of shit I came up with in 1994.” Now, I know a lot of people love The Boondock Saints – I’m not one of those people. (Probably the best defense of that love is here.) But the story of writer/director Troy Duffy is considerably more interesting.
Before I go any further, it’s worth noting that Overnight is decidedly anti-Duffy. While Duffy claims it’s been edited to make him look like an asshole, even the most cursory viewing makes clear that he IS an asshole sometimes, and those are the clips they chose. In them, Duffy badmouths most leading actors of the 90s, brags about bending studios to his will, and plans his 20 year career (!) in both film and music (!!). The highlight is probably his description of his creative depth: “We have a deep cesspool of creativity.” (If he hasn’t already, Duffy should consider suing the creators of Eastbound and Down, as he is clearly a real life Kenny Powers.)
Each quote is instantly ironic, as it’s clear that none of Duffy’s self-congratulatory predictions have come true. When he was sidelined, his blame spirals out from his entourage to include everyone at Miramax, especially Harvey Weinstein. It’s ironic that at the time no one – even Overnight’s documentarians – believe Duffy that Weinstein is out to get him, because it turns out that he was. While the film never actually shows what derailed Miramax’s production of The Boondock Saints and so soured Weinstein, those involved later revealed it was basically everything you see in Overnight, as well as a botched meeting with Ewan MacGregor (too bad it wasn’t the passive aggressive message he leaves for Kenneth Branagh).
All of these antics do not prove that Duffy isn’t an asshole, or that he somehow got screwed. I’m not as convinced as The AV Club’s Nathan Rabin that The Boondock Saints we have is the same one that Miramax would’ve made. With MacGregor and Branagh as the brothers (and hopefully a lot of assistance with the script and behind the camera), it could’ve been something more than an Irish Catholic-specific Pulp Fiction rip off. But then we wouldn’t have Overnight.