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From Under A Rock: The Boondock Saints

September 18, 2015 | Posted by Michael Ornelas
Boondock Saints
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From Under A Rock: The Boondock Saints  


There’s a first time for everything in a person’s life: your first real fight with your best friend. Your first fight resolution with your best friend. Your first time doing something with your best friend after said fight, and how awkward it can be. You know the drill.

You only get one first time, and for some people, it comes later than it does for others. This particular column is about documenting the first viewing of a “classic” movie or TV show (determined at the discretion of my writing partner, Aaron Hubbard and I in alternation). This column is a companion piece to my podcast of the same premise, which you can check out here.

Last week Aaron watched The Usual Suspects for the first time, and he totally dug it. This week he takes Michael out from under the proverbial rock on The Boondock Saints, and the results are quite different…

The Boondock Saints

Aaron Hubbard: The Boondock Saints, for me, is the epitome of the terms “guilty pleasure” and “sentimental favorite”. It’s been a part of the family library for over a decade and I rattle off quotes from it whenever I find it appropriate. The MacManus brothers and their vigilante justice on Boston, as well as Agent Smecker’s battle between following the law and acknowledging that the level of organized crime in the universe is more than they can handle. Essentially, it took the ideas of superhero comics like Batman, Daredevil and Watchmen and made a bare bones action film depicting what vigilantes might be like in real life. And it did all of this a good couple of years before even Spider-Man got a legitimate shot in theaters. Connor and Murphy don’t wear masks and they don’t have superpowers; they have an iron will, a dedication to a moral standard, and a lot of bullets. It personally touches on a lot of things for me; in particular, I think me and my brothers see a lot of ourselves in the MacManus twins and in Rocco. We also just find the film to be completely hilarious.

Michael Ornelas: Well I’m going to just go ahead and say that I’m glad I saw this, because I’ve heard so much about it. That said, it was not the most enjoyable experience for me. The storytelling was shoddy, the action was weirdly lacking (I hated how often they used the “fade to black” scene transition as a means of skipping over showing some action because it’s “implied”, essentially blueballing the audience), the acting was all over the place with some characters being more subtle and reserved while others were way over the top (I wasn’t a fan of Rocco in the slightest). The premise has been done better with Dexter (although beyond “vigilante,” I understand they’re very different properties), and I think the movie walked too closely to the line of taking itself too seriously to get away with a lot of the more absurdist things it includes.

Aaron: I never got the impression that the film was ever trying to take itself seriously. It certainly has things to say: the opening sermon by the pastor is extremely powerful and sets up the whole premise of the film perfectly, and the ending is just a wonderful call to action, an answer to that sermon. But aside from that, I think the film knows that it’s just ludicrous and revels in it; the scene with the cat, the sheer absurdity of “death by toilet”, David Della Rocco’s joke. These things are excessive by design, not by accident.

Michael: I feel like with my Crohn’s Disease, “death by toilet” isn’t out of the cards for me.
Like The King

Aaron: I do not even know what to say to that…

Michael: It’s best to just let me run my course. I’m like the flu, but much sexier.


Aaron: Uhhh….

Michael: Back to the movie. In hindsight, okay, maybe it didn’t take itself as seriously as I was interpreting, but it was very dry in delivery while the ridiculous nature of what was happening didn’t necessarily complement that to me. I love dry humor, but it missed the mark with me here. It did have funny moments, sure, and I didn’t despise this movie by any means. But comedically it wasn’t my cup of tea. There was actually a pretty decent action movie in there, even if the plot was held together by a thread throughout most of it.

The shootout against Il Duce was pretty sweet, the “confession” scene worked really well for me, and Smecker in drag, while played for the absurdity of it, was actually a really satisfying moment. And let’s not forget that the ending in the courtroom was glorious.

Aaron: Smecker is my favorite character in the movie and basically everything he does makes me smile. “Onion bagel, cream cheese,” is probably the best one-liner in the movie. I think when I watched this the first time I was too young to even properly process the character’s sexuality and now that I think about it, it’s probably one of the reasons I just never bothered caring. Smecker is brilliant, he’s funny, he is probably the closest thing to an actual protagonist in the film. His sexuality is played a bit for laughs but it is never shown as being a negative thing.

Michael: Just from the poster alone, I assumed Dafoe would be the villain in the movie (also because it’s practically right there in his last name).

Aaron: I can’t believe I have never heard that joke. It’s really obvious and would explain why he’s almost always the bad guy.

Michael: Well to my knowledge, I just coined it, but I’m sure I’m not the only one. But yeah, his character was probably my favorite as well because I felt he’s the only one that stood out. The brothers were interchangeable, I’m sad to say, and Rocco annoyed me to no end. But Smecker almost felt ahead of his time because at least for me, his sexuality had no bearing on whether or not I liked him as a character. He was a little naive though, in letting the priest influence him to help the vigilantes. But I forgive that since the scene was so fun. I also really loved “It was a firefight!!” But that comes more from the Roderick Strong fan in me than anything else.

Aaron: Roderick Strong became one of my favorite indy wrestlers immediately just for using that line in his intro music. It also occurs to me that my favorite scene from this whole movie didn’t even make it into the film proper. There’s a deleted scene where their mother calls from Ireland and it nearly makes me cry every time. Aside from that, while I completely get how Rocco can be annoying to you, for me he is one of the highlights of the movie and the emotional toll his death has on the brothers is one of the reasons I enjoy the movie as much as I do.

Michael: I won’t say I rejoiced in his death, because that’s callous, but it really didn’t move me, and almost felt by-the-numbers for an action flick.

Aaron: I feel that Boondock Saints was, in some ways, ahead of its time and would have been a better product if it were a TV mini-series on HBO or AMC. There’s a lot that goes on in this movie and it is probably difficult to digest in one sitting. I think if things were given more time to develop and to simmer the general idea would work better. For me, the film is a B-Movie and it hits its mark pretty well, so that’s the grade I’m going to give it.


Michael: Well I didn’t outright hate it, but it really missed that mark for me. I liked several sequences, but I felt like the final product wasn’t very good. I feel fair and objective in my rating, but I know you’re not going to be thrilled with it.


This is a rare occurrence for us, where we are so split on our opinions; where do you fall? Is The Boondock Saints any damn good?

Next week:

Michael: So we had an interesting back-and-forth via text earlier in which you didn’t seem thrilled about my next pick because you view the lead actor as boring. Meanwhile, I feel the exact opposite about said actor because of this movie:


Michael: …and what I find interesting about that is I agree he hasn’t had another role that was iconic or able to live up to his performance here, but the goodwill he earned from me for this movie actually allowed him to coast through other movies without realizing that maybe his performance was a little weak (full disclosure: I love the Godzilla movie he was in).

Aaron: Okay, so I know this is usually the part where I react to the movie you’ve picked from me, but I’m currently so dumbfounded that anyone liked that enormous piece of iguana shit that dared to take the “Godzilla” moniker to properly react.

Michael: I mean…it ended with Jurassic Park inside of Madison Square Garden. What’s there to hate??

Aaron: Anyway, back to this movie, I know nothing except the basic premise and the “Bueller? Bueller?” line that’s become part of pop culture. I saw that it was a John Hughes film and that usually bodes well. Looking forward to seeing it.

Is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off an all-time comedy great in your opinion as well? How does it stack up against John Hughes’ other films?

This week on the podcast “From Under A Rock”
Special guest (and pop sensation) Emii selects Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie for us because Michael hasn’t seen it before. It was a great time and a really fun episode that you should check out below.

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And if you want to read Aaron’s thoughts on movies, professional wrestling and comic books, check out The Shelf is Half Full.

The final score: review Average
The 411
Michael and I are split on this one, and that seems to be the case for audiences in general. Is it a cult classic or messy garbage? Depends on your view and experience I think. For me, it's a film that means a lot to me and my brothers and will always have a special place in my heart. But I also will never contend that it's a great movie. I just think it's one that people should see for themselves and make up their own minds about.