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OVERNIGHT (R) (2004)

THINKFilm

Official Site

Directors: Mark Brian Smith & Tony Montana

Producers: Mark Brian Smith & Tony Montana

Written by: Mark Brian Smith & Tony Montana

Featuring: Troy Duffy, Taylor Duffy, Gordon Clark, Jimi Jackson, Chris Brinker, Tony Montana, Mark Brian Smith, Mark Wahlberg, Willem Dafoe, Jake Busey, Billy Connolly, Paul Ruebens, Ron Jeremy

Rating:


I’m usually pretty virtuous about keeping my eyes front and not gawking at roadway accidents, but Overnight was one car wreck I could not tear my eyes away from. This squirm-worthy documentary has moments that make you want to cover your eyes and stop your ears, but its depiction of a one-man pile-up will command your attention.

In 1997, bartender Troy Duffy scored a near $1 m. deal from Miramax for his screenplay, The Boondock Saints, followed by considerable music industry interest in signing his band, The Brood. Harvey Weinstein even bought the West Hollywood bar (J. Sloan) where Duffy worked as a bartender and bouncer, and went halvsies with Duffy on it. But Duffy pissed it all away—the deals, the industry connections, his friends and bandmates—and since then, has been unable to secure work as a screenwriter or director. [NOTE: Boondocks II: All Saints Day might have Duffy attached to it.] After the world sees Overnight, he never will. The movie, by two pissed-on and pissed-off “friends,” all but guarantees that, if Troy Duffy’s name is rehabilitated it’ll be the greatest comeback since Richard Nixon. It damn near turns the man’s moniker into one of those nouns synonymous with situations, as in “to pull a Duffy,” “he Duffied that deal,” etc. In fact, if you check your dictionary right now, looking under “jerk (n.)” or maybe “prick (n.)” or “anti-Semitic (adj.)”, there’s probably a reference to Troy Duffy, a man whose arrogance actually makes viewers sympathize with… Harvey Weinstein! You’ll have to check your own editions for whether pictures of co-directors Smith and Montana appear under the entry for “betrayal (n.).”

Right away you get an impression of a guy whose guide for living with this new-found fame comes out of the movies. He’s straight outta the mean streets of Boston, he talks tough, he’s got screenwriting game. You can practically hear this cocky newcomer’s brass balls clanking together as he struts. In Overnight we are privy to several exhortatory speeches to the troops—his bandmates and filmmaking partners—such as the one where Troy declares that he is “a cesspool of creativity.” And he is oh so right. Truer words were never spoke. You have never seen anyone create so many ways to fuck up.

Sure, at first all of Troy’s compadres seem to be doing their victory dances rather prematurely. And who can blame them for going Hollywood a little? It’s practically a Lana-Turner-at-Schrafft’s story. I mean what a break for a bunch of working-class heroes. But when it comes down to the actual work, the center does not hold. In the segment titled “pre-production,” we see Troy on the speakerphone, seemingly playing the role of hotshot filmmaker with relish. “Everyone knows this is the best fucking project in town,” he barks, before threatening to leave William Morris for CAA. It’s at this point that disbelieving viewers will be slapping their foreheads and saying, “Wait a minute! Just who the fuck does this Troy Duffy think he is anyway?”

Throughout this cautionary tale, we see very few people who try to rein in Troy’s egregious behavior. The two who do are family members. In a scene in a moving car, Troy launches into one of his endless cocksure bloviations, only to have his wary mom remind him that pride goeth before a fall, referencing similar macho attitudes that caused her to divorce Troy’s dad. Later in the saga, Troy’s talented brother and bandmate, Taylor, tearfully tries to have a come-to-Jesus talk with Troy, only to be told, “I can’t trust you.”

Duffy’s deal goes south. He winds up being so thoroughly blackballed by the godlike Miramax that, although he eventually does make his film for Franchise Films and it gets screened at Cannes, its theatrical release is in a mere five theaters.

Overnight presents no filmic innovations, no advances to the art of the documentary, just a riveting rags-to-riches-to-rags story. While Smith and Montana definitely edited Overnight to tell the story they want us to see, Troy Duffy was their willing accomplice. Here’s yet another set of ills for which we can thank reality, excuse me, “unscripted” TV—utter lack of shame and the desire to be seen at all costs, even unflatteringly. I’ve read articles that say that the co-directors could have presented Duffy in an even more horrible light, but they thought no one would believe that a guy would actually be such a dick with cameras rolling. Watching Overnight is a humbling experience that should become a requirement in film schools everywhere. Check those egos at the door.

—Roxanne Bogucka

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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