Overnight Movie Review

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Call it an artifact of the go-go '90s, the last vestige of the overnight success syndrome that plagued that time period - where everybody seemed to think that if they could hit that one thing, be it a website, movie idea, or whatnot, then they could retire young - or simply another documentary about how horrendously wrong things can go, Overnight is good fun for anybody who enjoys watching massive egos self-destruct. Here, the massive ego in question is Troy Duffy, a Bostonian with more energy and chutzpah than common sense who moved out to La-La-Land in 1994 with ideas about trying to make it in show business. Troy worked as a bartender at a West Hollywood dive called J. Sloan's while he worked on his screenplay and practiced with his band, The Brood, which also included his brother Taylor. By 1996, when the film begins, Troy has somehow managed to get signed with the William Morris Agency and finesse a deal with Harvey Weinstein, whereby he would direct his own script for Miramax. It was a stunning piece of instant indie film folklore, given the gala treatment everywhere from The Hollywood Reporter to USA Today, who gave the impression that Troy could be the next Kevin Smith. Harvey even offered to buy J. Sloan's and run it with Troy as part of the deal. Since you've likely never heard of the guy, and this isn't a Christopher Guest production, it's pretty obvious that things went drastically wrong. Fortunately, a couple of Troy's cohorts, Mark Brian Smith and Tony Montana, were there to film it, even though they thought they would be chronicling the rise of a great new talent.

For a time, Troy's script, called The Boondock Saints, was a pretty hot property, and so early on we see everyone from John Goodman to Mark Wahlberg holding court with Troy. He's got a preliminary budget of $15 million dollars, stars nipping at his heels, and all his buddies working alongside him (having given themselves the hubristic moniker "The Syndicate"), so it's not a shock that the guy gets a swelled head. But it's also not hard to see how Troy was able to piss off so many people in so short a time, because as impressed as everyone else is with his Horatio Alger-esque rise to fame, he is triply impressed with it. From behind a wall of cigarette smoke, Troy pontificates endlessly to anybody in the room with him about his sheer awesomeness and how everybody in the Hollywood establishment - being as he views himself as the hard-knock-life, blue-collar kid busting into their rarified world - is supposedly so floored by his abilities and successes.

Just as most people in the audience will be getting annoyed with Troy, things sour for the would-be impresario. Not surprisingly, given the bullheaded manner Troy displays on the phone and in meetings, his surefire deal with Miramax quickly downscales and soon he's not getting his messages returned, from Harvey or anybody else. Then the film's put into turnaround and every other studio in town can't say no fast enough. It's probably all for the best, as what is seen of the film itself - which is finally shot years later on a much smaller budget, only barely released in theaters and ends up a cult oddity on video - doesn't seem to be much more than another post-Tarantino bulletfest, everybody in black trenchcoats and sunglasses, blazing away. And the less said about what happens to the poor guys in his band, the better. The boys in the Syndicate go from wondering how they're going to spend their millions to how they're going to pay their rent.

Schadenfreude aside, what makes Overnight so riveting is the absolute certainty of Troy in his own destiny as a musician/writer/director triple threat who will be unlike anything the industry has ever seen. The prospect that he spins out for his small cadre of friends and family is an intoxicating one, the idea that they will all be able to work together, stay friends, and make buckets of money, without losing touch with their roots (i.e., they'll still be able to smoke like chimneys, indulge in a strange affection for denim overalls and drink like it's going out of style). It's no shock that everybody around him believes him, who wouldn't want to? It's this powerful dream that propels this riveting but occasionally painful-to-watch film, and more than a few viewers will likely get swept up into it themselves. There's a thin line between confidence and arrogance, and according to Overnight, Troy Duffy appeared to forget that he needed to make a successful film before jumping right into arrogance.

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Overnight Rating

" Good "

Rating: NR, 2003

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