***½/**** Image B Sound B+ Extras C
directed by Mark Brian Smith & Tony Montana
by Walter Chaw Bordering on brilliant, Mark Brian Smith and Tony Montana's dry, witty, scabrous Overnight chronicles the rise and fall of grade-A asshole Troy Duffy as he meets his match in Hollywood, a land where being a legendary dick is something so run-of-the-mill that Duffy finds himself among the rabble instead of the king prick that he was on the little Boston hill he called his stomping ground. Duffy's rags-to-riches story (roughneck bartender sells a script to Miramax for a cool $450K in a deal that includes the bar he works at as well as an agreement that he'll direct with no studio interference) is the stuff from which dreams are made--but Harvey Weinstein puts the project in turnaround after just a few months of trying to work with the guy, and Duffy is left holding his paranoia and sense of entitlement in a twenty-ton bag. (I never would have thought it possible to make Harvey Weinstein appear not only the genius but also the sainted hero in a documentary about the film industry, but Duffy and his boilerplate bullshit The Boondock Saints are just the jerk and flick to do it.) There haven't been many movie villains with less political charisma and grace than Duffy has. In that one sense, if in no other, all his delusions of grandeur are justified.
The film is blessed with a sense of humour about the whole unpleasant mess while capturing Duffy's peculiarly misdirected rage, which alienates every single person in his life one-by-one in as ugly a way as possible. The doctrine according to Duffy, it seems, is that he alone holds the secret to movies, music, and management--and that he was gifted with that wisdom without any obvious education, charm, or smarts. He's an idiot savant, I guess, or an idiot idiot depending on your personal level of charity. Consider the moment when his stillborn band The Brood has just signed a record deal: rather than glow with pride, Duffy complains around an endless mouthful of cigarettes that his bandmates haven't fallen to their knees and laid baskets of fruit at his feet. Consider, too, that Smith and Montana compare (in a montage superior to any single moment in the clueless The Boondock Saints) Duffy's entourage--following another nasty Duffy outburst--with various farm animals. The real story of the piece isn't that Duffy is a pathetic, vulgar child, but that every person caught in Duffy's orbit is incapable of cutting the cord for fear they'll miss out on a few dollars somewhere at the end of Duffy's abuse rainbow.
The exception is Taylor Duffy, who, frankly, doesn't have a choice. Described as a musical genius at one point by someone who might know (a former Doobie Brother), Taylor lays himself out on the spit to offer a character intervention on behalf of his brother. As is his modus, Troy takes another selfless act from a loved one and shits all over it in a shower of psychopathic wrath and incoherent self-pity. The most fascinating aspect of Overnight is that it actually lends The Boondock Saints a measure of depth--an avenue for critical discussion, as it were--in that the film reveals itself to be a fairly good analysis of Duffy's myriad dysfunctions despite its essential lack of imagination and originality. Overnight is a tragic indictment of greed--not Duffy's (I wager that not many will shed a tear for him, perhaps not even his poor mother, treated rudely in the picture, or his father, a Harvard professor who speaks volumes by making himself scarce onscreen), but that of Duffy's sycophants: in another wordless montage that closes the piece, they're shown back at their various blue-collar occupations wondering what if, and more than likely what it cost them in skin and soul just to be back where they started.
by Bill Chambers TH!NKFilm self-distributes Overnight on DVD in a 1.80:1 non-anamorphic widescreen transfer. The source material was of course generated on digital video, and the image, unhampered by the artifacts of a celluloid intermediary or any kind of noticeable generation loss, often looks crisp and colourful enough to pass for the camcorder originals. The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio sounds similarly fresh, even if it's been unmistakably sweetened to tone down the omnipresent background murmur. Kicking off the modest helping of extras, two deleted scenes find members of "The Syndicate" chatting up a waitress soon after Brood's record deal is announced in BILLBOARD MAGAZINE and attending a table reading of The Boondock Saints, where Willem Dafoe maintains a poker face as others applaud a particularly amateurish line-reading from one of his many unworthy co-stars. Next up is a 5-minute segment from "Backstage with Barry Allen" in which correspondent Sarah Zapp asks co-directors Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith naïve questions like: "Why didn't somebody pull Troy Duffy aside?" Amusingly biased cast and crew bios ("Following a stint as a short-order cook at a topless strip club," begins one paragraph of Duffy's) plus trailers for Overnight, Game Over, Born Into Brothels, and Mondovino round out the disc. Originally published: June 27, 2005.