The Boondock Saints (1999)

This went straight to video and sank - though it's no worse than many other Tarantino wannabe crime film - but has popped up again in the wake of Overnight, the fairly devastating documentary about its writer-director Troy Duffy, who sold this spec script to Miramax then got booted out of the company essentially for being a jerk and had to shoot it cheaper with lower-case (though still respectable) stars only to find that the tiny distributor who picked it up didn't make much of it (dark hints abound that the machiavellian Harvey Weinstein blacklisted Duffy and his film - though movies get lost in the shuffle every week without Harvey's help).

It's the story of two Irish neighbourhood boyos (Sean Patrick Flannery, Norman Reedus) who become vigilantes, offing various cartoon ethnic gangsters (Russians, Italians), while pursued by a gay, opera-loving, sometimes-in-drag FBI agent (Willem Dafoe) and turning the hit man (Billy Connelly) sicced on them into a tagalong mentor.

It has stretches of funny-ish talk and a good cast, but it's still posy gun-pointing with pretensions to seriousness and with that same arrogant, profane plank-to-the-head obnoxiousness that Duffy demonstrates at hard-to-endure length in the documentary. Of course, without Overnight, we wouldn't look for traces of a director's personality in something like this; but watched as an add-on to the the documentary, it confirms your worst impressions - the opposite of the effect Coven has on American Movie, where the work allegedly shows depths and talent not emphasised in the making-of- and suggests that justice might have better been served by the script not getting made at all. From Overnight to Oversight ...

First published in this form here.

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