July 6, 2005

Dangers of Self-Sabotage

"I'm just a check on a box on a questionnaire/Another moment that flashes into nowhere" - Graham Parker, Empty Lives
It seemed like an almost-perfect story - a bartender sells a script for a huge amount of money to a major studio, and also manages to get a recording contract for his band. However, within the space of a few years, he returns to relative obscurity, seemingly having burned his bridges with the entertainment industry. Sounds like a great fictional movie, doesn't it - something indie, with a little bit of based-on-reality to make it seem honest. The kind of thing an old friend of mine named Ed would write about.

However, it's a documentary called Overnight, based on Troy Duffy and his experiences with Boondock Saints. It's based on a true story, and it is one hell of a trip. Yes, you have to put up with obnoxious behavior for an hour and a half, but in the end, it turns into an almost cautionary morality tale.

It starts innocently enough, with the announcement of the sale of Duffy's script, and the aftereffects on a small group of friends who form "The Syndicate". In fact, the first few minutes show us grown men who act like kids in a candy store...who were given the key to the store. As one key scene occurs - a scene where Duffy is talking to his mother about his brother - the film turns darker, as funding is pulled from Boondock Saints, and Duffy's behavior becomes more extreme. Berating friends and family alike, we see Duffy become increasingly infatuated with his fame, turning himself into a Hollywood legend long before justifying it on film.

(Have I seen Boondock Saints? No. After seeing this documentary - shot at Duffy's request, and including some footage behind the scenes, I have no desire to, either, as Saints appears to be another post-Tarantino shoot-'em-up. The only documentary that comes close to detailing a rise-and-fall-on-ego is Todd McFarlane: The Devil You Know, only McFarlane seems to be a legitimately nice guy soured by fame; Duffy acts as if fame were his destiny)

Overnight is not simply another crash-and-burn story: it's a story about how one man could not handle sudden fame. Stabbing friends in the back, bullying people in the entertainment industry, and gradually turning typical Hollywood business into a "war" with Miramax Studios. (Admittedly, the filmmakers have a personal agenda, as one scene sees Duffy verbally devastate them - however, given Mr. Duffy's lack of rebuttal, and his work on Boondocks 2, it leaves one to wonder). It's a movie that asks for a counterpoint, but never really gets one.

If you like obnoxious behavior, or seeing how arrogance can lead to humility, this is a must-watch).

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