out of Five
Running time: 82
Frequently hilarious documentary that brutally exposes its subject and offers an intriguing peek behind the Hollywood headlines.
The story of how bartender Troy Duffy wound up with a million dollar deal at Miramax has become Hollywood legend: Miramax head honcho Harvey Weinstein was apparently so enamoured of Duffy’s script for gangster thriller “The Boondock Saints” that he bought it on the spot and offered Duffy the chance to direct the film himself.
To sweeten the deal even further, he allowed Duffy’s band The Brood to provide the soundtrack for the film and, famously, bought the bar that Duffy worked in - J. Sloan’s on Melrose - as a present (although Weinstein co-owned it).
High on his success, Duffy commissioned two of his friends – co-directors and fellow band members Mark Brian Smith and Tony Montana - to record his meteoric rise. However, Duffy’s egomania proves to be his downfall and instead of his rise, the film charts his spectacular fall from grace as he systematically alienates everyone around him. In fact, the two directors take so much abuse from Duffy throughout the film that you can’t help but feel that Overnight is their long-overdue revenge.
Overnight kicks off shortly after the Miramax deal has been reported in the press. It’s a shame that we don’t get to see the initial meeting, because it would be fascinating to know just what exactly Harvey saw in Duffy in the first place.
At any rate, dungrarees-wearing, thug-like Duffy is immediately seen saying things like, “I want to conquer the world!” and lording it over all the people that said he’d never amount to anything. It’s clear from their reactions that they’re just waiting for him to screw everything up and, sure enough, he does.
At times it’s genuinely astonishing that Duffy permitted the cameras to keep rolling. As a result, the film-makers shot so much footage that it’s possible to pin-point the exact tip of the slippery slope – it comes when Miramax exec Meryl Poster won’t return Duffy’s calls. From that moment on it’s clear to everyone but Duffy that it’s all over, but he ploughs on regardless, alienating his fellow band members and refusing to pay anyone.
The Comedy Moments
There are many hilarious scenes in the film, most of which involve Duffy yelling at somebody over the phone. He has an amusing rant about actors he hates (“Keanu Reeves is a loser – I’ll never do a movie with him”) and raves about Kenneth Branagh – that is until Branagh’s “people” turn him down.
Duffy also reveals a gift for the unintentionally hilarious one-liner, such as “We’ve got a deep cess-pool of creativity here!” Other highlights include his hilariously downbeat lecture to eager film studies students (“Do you know what it’s like to get your ass broken wide open 100 times?”) and his reaction to a brilliantly timed practical joke involving a mobile phone.
One of the interesting things about the documentary is that it gives an insight into the fickle nature of Hollywood: after the story breaks, J.
Sloan’s becomes a “hip” Hollywood hang-out and actors such as Mark Wahlberg swarm around Duffy because they think he’s The Next Big Thing. They then disappear just as quickly once he’s dropped by Miramax.
Amazingly, after all this, Duffy does actually get The Boondock Saints made (starring Willem Dafoe and Billy Connelly), after an independent producer steps in. However, it only plays for a week in one theatre. We’re then told that it becomes a cult hit on video, but that Duffy neglected to secure the DVD rights. D’oh!
In short, Overnight is an impressive, frequently hilarious portrait of a career crashing and burning before it’s even begun. As such, it’s a must-see for anyone with a penchant for schadenfreude. Highly recommended.