There is a telling scene in the documentary “Overnight” when Troy Duffy, the documentary’s star, is discussing the fate of his band with his bandmates, wherein he uses the word “we” a lot. What we will come to know about this man named Troy Duffy is that, in his world, the word “we” actually means “I”. As in, “I know what I’m doing, I’m smarter than you, we’re here because of me, and if you don’t listen to me, then go screw yourself, you talentless hacks.” Flushed with signs of success, the bandmates go along with Duffy’s delusional ideas, just as they went along with kicking sand in the face of two of their buddies when Duffy declared them to be worthless. Those two men, Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith, would go on to assemble a documentary called “Overnight”, about the rise and fall of one Troy Duffy.
“Overnight” begins with newspaper headlines trumpeting the overnight celebrityhood of Troy Duffy, a Boston expatriate who found himself in L.A. tending bar, when his first screenplay, “The Boondock Saints”, is snapped up by Miramax heavyweight Harvey Weinstein for a cool $300,000. Weinstein is so enamored with Duffy that he doesn’t just give the neophyte filmmaker a chance to direct his very first movie, but he hands him a $15 million dollar budget and offers to buy the bar that Duffy was working in as a co-owner. Alas, it isn’t long before the brash Duffy, brimming with the kind of arrogance usually reserved for people who have actually achieved something, gets on Weinstein’s bad side, and soon Duffy becomes a pariah in Hollywood . But if you think this will damper Duffy’s steadfast belief in his own greatness, you are sadly mistaken.
Eventually Duffy gets the money to make “The Boondock Saints”, though with a much, much smaller budget. The film itself would go on to bomb in Cannes and get a minor run in theaters before being sent to video, where it would become a minor cult hit with the young set. But it’s Duffy’s trials and tribulations with his bandmates, his brother Taylor, and the man’s uncanny ability to lift himself into the clouds while crushing everyone around him into the dirt that is most fun to watch. It isn’t as if Duffy doesn’t have any talent, as “The Boondock Saints” is actually a pretty good B-action/adventure, but to witness Duffy go about burning every bridge imaginable in a neverending tirade of profanity and self-congratulatory monologue is something to behold.
Surely, one thinks, a man can’t be this full of himself. One would be wrong.
To be sure, there’s a little shaudenfreud going on here, as anyone who spends 5 minutes with Troy Duffy (in real life or onscreen) will no doubt be wishing for the man’s inevitable downfall. They won’t have long to wait, as just as quickly as he rises to the top, Duffy hits rock bottom. Just don’t tell him that. Duffy swiftly turns every roadblock into another declaration of his brilliance for, as he is fond of saying, “they” have never seen the likes of him. In a word, Troy Duffy believes he is God’s gift to existence. No, that’s not quite right. Troy Duffy believes he is God made human.
It’s not that easy to properly describe a man of Duffy’s abrasive personality, or indeed explain why he’s so fond of denim overalls. Duffy brags that he once got drunk, woke up, and went to a film meeting in his overalls while everyone there were wearing suits, as if this was some kind of victory. He would go on to remark that Harvey Weinstein “wishes” he could be like Troy Duffy. And to be like Troy Duffy is to be blacklisted by Harvey Weinstein, who apparently is not a man to be trifled with, especially when he buys your first script for a ludicrous sum and makes you famous overnight. Sundance veterans can tell you a thing or two about Mr. Weinstein’s need for public shows of excess.
There are times when “Overnight” gets a bit ahead of itself, especially toward the end when Montana and Smith elects to use montages overlaid with tragic music that gives away the tragedy to come. The smarter and more veteran move would have been to allow in natural sound and let the circumstances unfold in all their train wreck glory. Sometimes one can almost feel the giddiness with which the documentary filmmakers unveil Duffy’s downward spiral, with title cards popping up frequently to contradict Duffy’s lofty expectations for himself, his movie, and his career. But really, you can’t blame Montana and Smith for taking a little pleasure from Duffy’s incredible plummet back into obscurity, as they have suffered mightily under the man’s ego.
The thing about a man like Troy Duffy is that you want him to fail, because his failure is a sign that the universe is not cruel, and that indeed, good people do get their just desserts, and likewise for the more infamous among us. Troy Duffy certainly falls into the latter camp, being unlikeable, loud, obnoxious, and so overwhelming in his narcissism that to see someone such as he achieve greatness in life would be to question God’s will.
Finally, if you’re one of those people dreaming of making it big in Hollywood, here is some sound advice for you: If you ever want to work in Hollywood, whatever you do, don’t — and I mean, don’t — f*** with Harvey Weinstein. When the man says jump, you ask, “How high”, and then do your best to meet the goal. And if you should fail to meet that goal, fall to your knees and apologize. If you kiss his feet while you’re down there, Harvey gets all wobbly and human, or so I hear.
Tony Montana, Mark Brian Smith (director)
CAST: Billy Connolly …. Himself
Willem Dafoe …. Himself
Troy Duffy …. Himself
Tyson Duffy …. Himself
Sean Patrick Flanery …. Himself