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The Boondock Saints and Troy Duffy

"It doesn't have to be Boondocks, Troy "


By Dylan Grant


Hollywood is a funny place.  How funny?  Troy Duffy, once the toast of the town and latest Next Big Thing to come along in the Tarantino inspired era of late nineties indie film saw the release of The Boondock Saints dwindle to nearly nothing, his career apparently over before it started.  "I was sleeping on the floor of my friend's apartment," says Duffy, "when Tokyo called.  Tokyo, like the city itself just picked up the phone."  Troy's first and to date, only film was scheduled to headline the Tokyo Film Festival.  "A limo showed up, they flew us to Tokyo first class.  We were in this skyscraper of a hotel and as we were going up in the elevator, we could see a giant, megatron screen across the street from the hotel that was running the Boondock trailer.  I show up at the screening and there are 2000 screaming fans.  After it was over I was right back to the floor in my friend's apartment."


It happens like that sometimes.  In Hollywood's promise is another man's drunken delusion, and for every Tarantino, there's a guy who can't find his way off the floor of his friend's apartment.  Think of Sunset Blvd.  Erich von Stroheim played a character that was once one of the biggest directors in Hollywood, married to the woman for whom he now works as a butler.  It's fictional in the sense that von Stroheim was never a butler, but there are those kinds of career trajectories.


But back to Troy Duffy.  There is more to the saga of The Boondock Saints than anyone could have or should have expected.  The script was hot, the test screenings were a hit, and the world seemed to be throwing open its doors, blowing, to borrow from Walt Whitman, the doors themselves from their hinges.  Unfortunately, a school shooting in Columbine, Colorado ruined all that.  The shootings, their fallout, and all the freshly heightened scrutiny paid to violence in the media (because, you know, media violence is what those shootings were all about) turned what had been a hot property into a film that was virtually unreleasable.  If a certain box office tracking web site is to be believed, The Boondock Saints ran in five theaters back in 2000, took in about thirty grand at the box office, and opened and closed in about three weeks.  Every indication was that the film would fade away, and we would never be the wiser.


But like I said, Hollywood's a funny place, and for every story about the guy who makes the big film and ends up cleaning swimming pools, there's yet another story about the guy who made the film, saw it tank, was starting to think he would be forced to clean swimming pools, only to see things turn back in his favor.  "Blockbuster saved us," Duffy says.  "They agreed to take it on exclusively, and from there the rest is history."  The Saints were quickly moving 100,000 units a month, or as one rabid fan put it: "I went to the University of Florida, and everybody had two DVDs: Zoolander and The Boondock Saints."


Fans, as they do, rescued the film from the dusty shelves of video store obscurity and turned it into a kind of backside hit.  The Boondock Saints is a fan film, raised to such a level that it is now, from a critical standpoint, bulletproof.  I saw the film for the first time recently, and there is a lot to criticize, but it is such an audience darling that none of that really matters.  (Maybe it has something to do with the film's simplicity.  The Boondock Saints is one of those films that makes you feel like you too can make a movie.)  Seeing his fans, it was like Overnight never happened.  No one brought it up, much less gave an impression that he had let them down.  The air in the screening room was one of an even that they had been waiting for since 2000.


The popularity of the film gave way to talk of a sequel, which Duffy says will happen.  "It's going to be called All Saints Day," he says.  The plot revolves around our righteous triumvirate hiding out on an island, returning to Boston when they learn they have been framed for the murder of a priest.  Troy says, "The film takes a lot of twists and turns.  The Il Duce character stays on the island when they go back.  He's near death for most of the movie.  Then he comes back in the end and we realize that everything we thought was happening was really part of something else."


So the script has been more or less written, and there's a deal waiting to be signed, and


Yes, yes, but when, Troy, when will we see this fabled sequel?  How much longer, o' Lord?  "That's the one question every fan asks," Duffy laments, "and it's a question I really can't answer.  It's frustrating.


There are, Troy tells us, certain litigious matters that must be unraveled before the sequel can be allowed to move forward.  Troy can't tell us anymore.  All this talk about saints and islands and sequels and lawyers is leading us into murky waters, where the Moviefreak lawyers tell us we would be rash to tread.


But fear not.  Duffy has been keeping busy these past six years with more than a lengthy court case.  "We wrote four scripts," he says, "and we chose one to go ahead with."  Duffy has little more to say about that one, titled "The Good King," other than to say that it is a dark comedy.  Actually, "it's as black as a starless night at the bottom of the ocean."  If you like the humor in Saints, Troy tells us, you'll love "The Good King." 


Who knows how any of this will play out, but it seems safe to say that "The Good King" will probably be made before any Boondock sequel, but maybe that's for the best.  There is nothing like a little litigation to chip away at the soul.  "I was in a bar one night and some fans sent some drinks over, and then they sent some more drinks over, so I went to go talk to them."  Here Duffy admits that he probably told them too much about a law suit his lawyers have pleading with him to be quiet about.  "One of these guys put his hand on my shoulder and he says, 'It doesn't have to be Boondocks, Troy.  Just give us something.  We're hungry.'"  Duffy pauses a moment, then asserts, "I'm a filmmaker again.  Fuck it."


For now, though, Troy is relishing the re-release of The Boondock Saints.  The original unrated version will be shown in theaters on the 22nd of May, with the new two-disc DVD following the next day.  "I hadn't seen this cut in years," said Duffy after the screening.  The major restorations, he says, involve shots here and there that were too much at the time.  "Basically, every time someone got killed there was more blood."


From the audience reaction, the years have clearly not diminished the fans' enthusiasm.  The applause, hysterical laughter, all the whooping: it was like seeing your favorite band give the performance you'd always hoped they would.  The fans loved it, Duffy looked happy, and the film looked great.  A story as unlikely as this could only happen in Hollywood.


Article Posted: May 12, 2006


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