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Overnight (2003/2004)

Imagine, if you will, being allowed to make a documentary where you are capturing the next Quentin Tarantino making his first feature film. Now imagine that everything goes to shit. That's what you get with "Overnight," a documentary about Troy Duffy, a fat, obnoxious, overbearing asshole who somehow managed to write a script that got the attention of Harvey Weinstein and Mirimax Films. The script was for a action flick called "Boondock Saints."

Duffy got a sweet deal from Mirimax. They paid six figures for the script, were going to allow Duffy to direct the film and have a 15 million dollar budget, were going to allow Duffy's band The Brood to do the soundtrack, and, in the clincher for the scripter, buy Duffy his favorite local bar. There was much celebrating and much drinking. Soon Hollywood types like Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Jake Busey, Jerry O'Connell, Vincent D'onofrio, Matthew Modine, Jeff Goldblum, Emilio Estevez, and Billy Zane were hanging about. More drinking ensued. One of the best scenes in the film has Paul Reubens (AKA Peewee Herman) reading a scene from the script with Duffy. And many names are dropped by Duffy, including some disparaging remarks, including Ewan McGregor, Deniro, Ethan Hawke, Kenneth Branagh, Jerry Bruckheimer and Keanu.

Duffy's friends Mark Smith and Tony Montana were allowed to film everything and they capture a lot here. At the center of the film is Duffy, a fat, pompous, drunken blowhard who makes for great footage. This guy is obviously an idiot and he sets up a production company and promises all his friends and his brothers (one of whom is in The Brood) that they will all get to work on their film and music products. Smith and Montana have a special deal with Duffy, however, and the film they are making belongs to them. While Duffy allows them nearly unlimited access to himself and his story, the film they are making is otherwise totally out of his control.

What unfolds in the film is nothing short of eye-opening. There are numerous meetings about the film and the record and Duffy continues to bellow about how big this whole deal is going to be. Duffy and The Brood meet with producer Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and it seems they are going to set up a deal with Madonna's Maverick records. Then Mirimax, suddenly, put the film in turnaround and everything turns to shit.

Eventually Franchise films make the movie at a much lower budget with Willem Dafoe, Billy Connelly and Ron Jeremy, and it plays for one week at five theaters. Duffy has a deal that gives him no rights to video or merchandising. Meanwhile, the band gets signed to Atlantic, record an album that sells on 690 units in six months and quietly get dropped. By the end of the film, the band has broke up, the members working menial jobs, the film has become a cult hit on video but Duffy receives no money from it and had become a paranoid schizophrenic who thinks Harvey Weinstein has put a hit out on him and the bar that Weinstein never really bought for him is remodeled to become a yuppie drinkery.

This is a fascinating film. Duffy is like a horrific car accident that you just can't keep your eyes off of. Smith and Montana filmed the piece over several years, getting better and better video cameras as the project evolved as well as using 8 and 16mm film to give the piece a nice texture. While the story here has some holes (we never really understand how Duffy got Mirimax interested at first and we never really understand why they put it in turnaround. Still there is no denying the overwhelming attention that this film demands. For those of us who love cinema, this is a jarring reminder of how detrimental ego without the talent to back it up can be.

Notes:

This documentary had been picked up by ThinkFilms.

Viewed in October 2004 as a part of the Austin Film Festival at the Paramount Theater. Smith was in attendance and did a Q&A. He told us that one of the reasons Mirimax put the film in turnaround was that Duffy got two DUI's during preproduction but they felt that the drinking in the film makes it obvious what the problem is. (It doesn't). He also told us that he is not sure if Duffy has seen the film but has called it "An 87 minute smear campaign.")

The film debuted at Seattle in June 2003 and then played Sundance and Cannes this year. No official U.S. date has been set yet to the best of my knowledge.

Report Card

Content: A+

Completeness: B+

Cinematography\Lighting:
A+

Special Effects\Make Up: A+

Music:
A+

Final Grade: A+

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