There shouldn’t be any lead-in toward my feelings on this movie, so I’ll just say it: I absolutely loathe The Boondock Saints. Like, really, really hate it. It is not by any stretch of the means the worst or most incompetent movie that I’ve seen, but without a doubt one of the vilest and most contemptuously self-satisfied. Director Troy Duffy, brilliantly torn down a’la the Berlin Wall in the little-seen documentary Overnight, thinks all too highly of himself, and by extension so too does The Boondock Saints, a movie neither as clever nor as original as it thinks it is. But for all of my disdain for the film, it’s one that I consider crucial toward developing my tastes and sensibilities as a cineaste and also toward my love for sharing my passion with others. (I never said that this series would focus on films that I loved, after all.)
Yet again we wander down memory lane into my college years, specifically freshman year. (As a total aside, college was a very significant moment in time for me as it concerns my movie loving tendencies. My “awakening”, so to speak, took place in high school but arriving at college, movies went from something I liked to something I obsessed over.) I had a habit of buying DVDs on a regular basis for display and viewing in the dorm suite I shared with three other people; the Suncoast Video located in the Towson Mall was one of my major haunts, a place for me to pick up a wide variety of DVDs on the cheap and without the downside of waiting a week for them to arrive a’la Amazon or the like. I’m not sure what it was that possessed me, on one particular trip, to grab a copy of The Boondock Saints; maybe it was a suppressed memory of a half-favorable Boston Globe review of the film from several years back, maybe it was Willem Dafoe’s mug staring back at me from the case, maybe it was the fact that it was nine bucks and why the hell not. I may never remember why I bought it. But I’ll always remember the events that followed once I did.
Am I overselling things a bit? Maybe.
I think it’s fair to say that for a lot of us, being passionate about movies naturally leads to being passionate about sharing those movies with others. And honestly, that’s a sentiment that can be applied to any sort of hobby or pursuit. We obsess about the things we love and we want to pass that experience on to others. Frankly, I think that’s beautiful, and that’s exactly what The Boondock Saints— current perspective on the film aside– means to me.
College, from start to finish, is a time for networking, meeting new people, making new friends, forging new connections, and generally having just a grand old social time, and in my movie geek fashion I reached out to people by introducing them to movies I happened to love and which they hadn’t heard of. (Interactions didn’t come about solely by introducing them to new movies, of course, but “so, have you seen [movie title]?” is a pretty good icebreaker in a college setting.) Inevitably this led to me earning a minor status as “the movie guy” and a brief tenure as the campus’ free (and really limited) version of Blockbuster, but it also led to faux-screenings in the space I shared with my roommate, which was large enough to fit a respectable sized Sony television (respectable for a college dorm room, I mean) but still small enough to make things a little close for comfort when trying to squeeze a half dozen or so students in to watch, say, Amelie or Snatch. Together, we were a twenty four-limbed fire hazard, despite half of those appendages being legs, but dammit it was worth it.
None of the movies in my possession drew quite as many Goucher kids to suite 110 as The Boondock Saints, though, nor earned quite the same level of notoriety. Part of this had to do with me– as an impressionable young man, I found myself quite taken by what basically amounts to Quentin Tarantino’s Greatest Hits as performed by a rank amateur who has no business trying to emulate the greats (don’t try a Hendrix solo on stage if you don’t have the chops, kids). I was young. And reckless. I didn’t know any better. And movies like The Boondock Saints easily appeal to the sensibilities of pop film junkies looking for cheap, and not necessarily good, thrills in the form of morally ambiguous violence, which the movie provides in spades. Most of all, the thing’s quotable as hell; even today with the film having fallen out of my favor as far as it has, I still find myself whipping out one-liners about stupid fucking rope, people being serial crushed by huge freaking guys, and of course symbology. All of this plus Billy Connolly quickly turned The Boondock Saints into a movie that I absolutely had to share with as many people as I could as quickly as I could so as to spread the news of its excellence (meaning, what I perceived as excellence) to as many as were willing to listen.
To this day I still puzzle myself over the frenzy I went into over the movie; it’s really not good at all, if the jabs I’ve taken at it in the preceding paragraphs didn’t already give you that impression. But why I liked the movie at one time isn’t as important as what the movie represents to me today. The Boondock Saints is the earliest flick in my memory whose visibility I actively tried to promote; it’s the first time I remember feeling so impassioned toward a movie as to be motivated to lobby for it and raise awareness of its existence. And I think having so much ardor for a film, and being so ecstatic over it, is part of being a cinephile; it’s not just about your personal enjoyment of a movie, but also making a point to hopefully bestow some of that enthusiasm onto others.
Almost a decade later, I wish I’d chosen my horse a little more shrewdly– I certainly have fallen in love with better films, more lasting and impacting films, since going through my Boondock Saints phase, and I hope I’ve done right by them and introduced them to people who cherish them as I do. Be all that as it may, I can’t deny that the film still holds a special place in my heart for giving me the opportunity to experience how gratifying it is to foster joy for movies, or a specific movie, in other people.