Early in the documentary Overnight, members of Troy Duffy's inner circle of family and friends proudly say that the red-hot twentysomething writer, director, and musician—who at one point seemed destined for historic success in both music and film—deserves everything he's going to get. They have no idea just how right they are, albeit for reasons they never could have intended or predicted: Brash, obnoxious, and egomaniacal, Duffy deserves the failure he eventually encountered.
In 1997, however, he was the man of the hour, ostensibly the latest in a long line of Miramax Cinderellas such as Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck. Like Tarantino and Smith, Duffy was an untrained working-class dreamer lifted from obscurity by larger-than-life Miramax mogul Harvey Weinstein, who not only shelled out big money for the script that would become The Boondock Saints, but also offered to go into the bar business with Duffy. At the same time, Duffy's musical career seemed primed to explode, having attracted the attention of major players like Madonna's Maverick Records. Giddy with delusions of grandeur, Duffy began to imagine he was Tarantino and Kurt Cobain wrapped up in the same boorish package, and he developed an ego to match. But when he got on Weinstein's bad side, his Miramax deal unraveled and his career went into a downward spiral from which it has never recovered.
As Overnight progresses and its title grows increasingly ironic, it paints a mesmerizing portrait of a profane, overbearing monster engaged in a drawn-out act of professional suicide. If the iconic success stories of Miramax's golden boys represent the independent—or at least mini-major—version of the American Dream, then Duffy's sad slide represents its scuzzy nightmare. Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith's acidic, vitriolic takedown of Duffy boasts the abrasive intensity of a migraine headache and the depth and scope of a bona fide American tragedy. Hell may be other people, but for Duffy, it's staring back at him in the mirror every morning. He indulges in foul-mouthed rants against anyone and everyone he holds responsible for the failure of The Boondock Saints and his album, but he has only himself to blame.