Nine years ago, a film called “The Boondock Saints” opened on just five screens. At the end of its theatrical run, it had grossed a mere $25,812. Nobody knew then, that a phenomenon was in the making.
Today, Troy Duffy’s tale of two Irish brothers wreaking havoc on Boston’s criminal underworld has become one of the defining cult films of the decade. To date, its grossed more than $40 million on DVD and can currently be seen in over 500 different t-shirts at your local Hot Topic. Now, it’s getting a sequel called “Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day.”
But is this too much? “Boondock Saints” is entertaining, for sure. It’ll make you laugh and mostly keep you interested for its entire running time. Plus, it features Willem Dafoe at his absolute creepy best. But does it really deserve this cult?
Well, most of the great cult films are the trashiest ones (think “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and anything John Waters does). However, this film’s level of escapist trashiness feels uninspired. It felt like Duffy was trying his absolute best to imitate Tarantino. At some points, it’s all too obvious (you probably won’t laugh as hard at the cat getting his head shot off once you see the Marvin scene from “Pulp Fiction”). Mainly, however Tarantino is the hardest director to emulate because his style comes from decades of watching thousands of movies no one has ever heard of.
But I digress. The real problem with “Boondock Saints” is the story itself. Couldn’t Duffy have made the religious references a little more subtle? “Donnie Darko,” one of the great cult classics of the decade, was a film that explored the possible existence of God. Yet, you wouldn’t have known that until after you thought about it for a while. Plus, I find it impossible to take sympathy for anyone who believes murder is justified just because they believe God told them to do it. Perhaps this film is just plain overrated.
Maybe I just haven’t seen the movie enough. Or maybe I’m just one of those people who simply don’t get it. That’s what a cult film is: some get it, and some don’t. When I look for a good cult classic, I look for a film that penetrates your mind so much and spawns so many questions. In that light, the likes of “Donnie Darko” and “Blue Velvet” work for me. Or, I look for a film that transcends reality and forces you to embrace your darkest, guiltiest pleasures. In that light, “Scarface” works for me.
While those three films are constantly commented on on IMDB message boards or turned into useless merchandise, there’s more too them. They sit in your head, they make you question the very reason you go to the movies in the first place. And I guess that means I still really can’t answer that question.
I wish Troy Duffy best luck with this sequel and other films in the future. If he hopes to make something better than “Boondock Saints” there’s one thing he should remember: a great film (or great cult classic, for that matter) should be something to chew on, and not just full of cool quotes to put on t-shirts.
Now “Boondock Saints” fans please tell me: what do you enjoy about this film so much? Am I missing something?