Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pearls Before Swine

The Boondock Saints
Spoiler Warning!

As the run of The Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day comes to a close at my local theaters, I found myself wondering why in it's weeks available, I found myself with little more than a fleeting interesting in seeing it. Now, the way I see it there are three main reasons to have no interest in a sequel...assuming your a movie addict like me and need a reason not to go to the movies. 1.) It's a second installment of a property that never really caught your attention in the first place. 2.) You are bitter that the sequel got made in the first place for personal reasons i.e. it undermines the original movie (Like if they made Reservoir dogs 2: Vengence). And then there's the third reason which I quickly determined applies: You hated the first movie.
"Hate" is a strong word. I know; that's why I used it. I'm hoping that it's sparing use throughout this blog will bolster it's monosyllabic might and lend it just that much more chance of impressing on you, dear reader, how much I really don't like The Boondock Saints. You might think a movie with Willem Dafoe, Sean Patrick Flanery, and Billy Connolly (ahem, Mr. MacGregor) would be right up my alley. But in truth it's not the performances that put me off... Well, other than Norman Reedus' atrocious approximation of an Irish accent. No, my friend, it runs much deeper than that.
Where to begin? Simply put, I'm not one who's impressed by religious references. I know in pop culture, especially among my generation it seems, being irreverent is a sure fire way to gain popularity but the ways it's done in TBS it's entirely forced to me. We get it, your religious killers- how many times do we have to watch (swirling in a 360 degree whirlwind I might add) as you pray over a soon to be dead man?
Sure it worked for Jules in Pulp Fiction, but it worked because: 1.) We only hear it twice. 2.) The second time it's said with little pomp, during a monologue in which his entire story arc comes to a head. 3.) It's the only "spiritual" (note the quotation marks) content in the whole movie. 4.) ...Actually we'll come back to four.
The Boondock Saints screams over and over: "Look, we're religious and we shoot stuff!" It's like Troy Duffy saw the one scene from Pulp Fiction and set about writing an entire movie based on it, throwing in a few of his other favorite scenes from it along the way (Ahem, the cat scene) And poof! Five years later, TBS is born. Unfortunately, where one scene like this can be memorable, an entire movie of pseudo-religious nonsense does nothing but tell me that's all the production was banking on. Well, that and bore me.
Now let's go back for number four. 4.) It occurs within a movie that has a tongue in cheek sense about it. This is another problem I have with TBS. Duffy seems to have pulled a Lucas and fallen much to hard for his heroes. The MacManus brothers, played by Flanery and Reedus are portrayed as pure and just, righteous killers who's only fault is that they can't cleanse the world. The movie starts off portraying them with a sense of mirth, but quickly seems to forget how ridiculous it is. With that line blurred, the truly over the top moments that might be really enjoyable if I knew it wasn't serious quickly become "You gotta be kidding me" moments that serve only to take me out of the story.
I think this loss of sense is summed up perfectly in the "Man on the street" reactions the play behind the credits. Their filmed in a "media" style that's far to close to reality for my taste, further deposing the thought that it's all in good fun. Watching them, I see Duffy's realization that he's done exactly what I accuse him of. He uses them to try and make it seem like he's leaving you to your own conclusions, but I am not fooled. He's spent the entire movie whispering in my ear.
And then there's the racial implications, and no- I'm not just talking about the "Coke" joke. To be honest, that scene did little to offend me. If I couldn't stand the N-word (even as unnecessarily as it's used here) I'd have to hate movies like the afore mentioned Reservoir Dogs, but I don't because the word exists and the fact is there are people who still use it, as unfortunate as that might be. And even beyond that the joke told is a universal one. One of those one-size-fits-all jokes where all of the names can be switched with any of them getting the punch-line: "A Jedi, a Sith, and an Imperial officer find a magic lamp..."
No, what I mean by the racial implications is the Irish-centric fervor that permeates the entire movie. Throughout it's length, veritably every character that's not of Irish decent is made out to be a complete moron, and ends up dead by the time the credits role. The only exception being Detective Smecker, who may be portrayed as smart (and allowed to survive) but is also shown to be a cross-dressing, self-hating homosexual- something that's obviously meant to be an insult. You have a character like Rocco who proves to be a bit lovable, but he's also a bumbling idiot and doesn't live to see the credits. And then there's the finale with the red-haired witness (dressed in white I might add) at the courthouse...
Now, it's not like TBS is alone in this. We see the same thing with white characters in movies like Dances with Wolves. We see the same thing with non-Italian characters in a movie like GoodFellas. I mean let's get real, the only black character in that movie is a crackhead who's eventually executed for being a moron. So why love one but fault the other? Well, that brings us back to something we talked about earlier. With Goodfellas, Italian may be the decent of choice, but those characters who are of it aren't portrayed like cape wearing super heroes. Henry Hill isn't our savior, he's just the guy telling the story. And that's the difference for, between good story telling and propaganda. Take it or leave it.
According to, TBS grossed a little over $30,400 domestically. That's from a $6 million dollar budget. Now, I know this movie is said to have a "cult" following, and I'll back that a bit, as the sequel has grossed more than $10.1 million dollars from an $8 million dollar budget, as of the beginning of the week (it's still in theaters). So the improvement is there, I would say that it's obvious some of those fans returned. But, let's compare it to some of the other movies we've mentioned in this article. Goodfellas grossed upwords of $46.8 million dollars, but I couldn't find a budget for it. Pulp Fiction, a movie that also claims a cult following, grossed $107.9 million dollars from a budget of $8 million. So I think we can all agree that $30,400 is a bit underwhelming, yes?
That I'm swine- well, that's debatable. The Boondock Saints being pearls however, is an easy call on my end: It's not. However, truth be told, this movie is one of those that seems to be very divisive. When asked for their thoughts on it people tend to either hail it as the best thing since fruit in Jell-o, or beat around the bush before condemning it as a waste of their time. Though I guess there is a the third, rather common option: people who have no idea what your talking about.
What do you think?

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