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Boondock Saints: A Good, Wholesome, Catholic Movie?

Above my sister's bed is a Boondock Saints poster...near a painting of Smeagol that I made for her, above a Don Bosco relic, beside a Harry Potter poster, and 90 degrees away from U2 and the Beatles. The Boondock Saints has to be one of her favorite movies. I love Connor and Murphy…but I think the movie is simply “okay.” It’s not my favorite movie…but I still appreciate some of the things in this movie.
Yeah, throwing in some Latin in the end doesn't necessarily make it a prayer...

In fact, this past Sunday when my sister (aka The Fool) and I were both kneeling before our Lady near the church entrance, I tapped her on the shoulder and whispered "We're just like Connor and Murphy from the Boondock Saints." One thing I love about this movie is the beginning when the brothers are praying together during mass. It’s just BADASS, in a wholesome Catholic manner. Speaking of wholesome, Catholic…according to her, when it came to one of the movie nights at the Newman Catholic Center a few years ago (could be months ago instead of years considering how my perception of time has been ruined by PhD studies), someone tried selling the movie to everyone else as "a wholesome Catholic movie."
I'm Murphy, the Fool is Connor...in case you were wondering. 
My sister, very much in love with this movie, once tried watching this movie with my dad and applied this same approach. At one point, according to my sister, he kind of just shook his head and said something along the lines of "This is definitely not a good film for Catholics." This was after Rocco's finger got shot off and they're all cursing like sailors (as opposed to the rest of the movie when they're fighting heresy and using soap to wash out the mouths of all blasphemers in Boston).

Well, the first time I watched the movie....I LOVED it. There's something about the opening of the movie that struck a chord...the idea of brothers going to mass together, praying together, working together, drinking Guinness together, saving each other's lives, and even getting into bar fights together. I am not one for violence, but they had did have legitimate reasons for getting into that bar fight. Being a Dropkick Murphys fan kind of reinforced my appreciation. I also love the idea of fighting for all that is good and right in the world...like God, faith, goodness, social justice….noble purposes. I think the way I feel can be best summed up with some Tolkien…
 “I do not love the bright sword for it's sharpness, nor the arrow for it's swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend”- J.R.R. Tolkien 
After watching the movie several more times, I began to pick it apart (especially after reading up on the guy who wrote the screenplay). Then I began to see the reason why we Catholics did not permit them to film the movie within one of our churches. My dad was right about this movie….well most of it. You see, in my opinion, once Rocco is introduced…the movie goes downhill. Mind you, the brothers are hysterical at times…but they are far from sainthood.

My top 5 Boondock Saints peeves:

1.     Rosary

They wear the rosary…like many other people these days. I don’t know if it’s a trend or something, but I see so many rosaries around people’s necks that it kind of makes me wonder how often people pray the rosary. Yeah, the brothers don’t really seem to pray the rosary all that often in this movie….or pray very much at all…minus that “Shepherd’s prayer” that is more like a killing mantra than a prayer.

2.      “You don’t play with God”
This saying was repeated time and time again (in Portuguese) by my parents every time my sisters or I came close to crossing the line between funny and offensive to God. Plain and simple, you don’t mock the holy….which is what we see in this movie on a few occasions. The one scene that makes me uncomfortable is when one of the brothers dips his hand into a coffee cup and starts blessing police officers. Yeah, my inner, uber-strict, pre-Vatican II self started cringing with this scene, thinking back to my parents’ warnings. Don’t get me started on the confession booth scene…

3.     Rocco. 
Once this guy enters the scene, everything goes downhill. The brothers start off defending themselves from the mob and next thing you know, they go from defending themselves to becoming full-fledged vigilantes. In a sense, they become the mob. They start killing off people just because they were in the mob and because Rocco told them to. Am I the only one who noticed that Rocco initially aspired to become part of the mob? If they’re going to start killing off mob people, why don’t they kill Rocco?

4.     Il Duce.
Could they have gotten a more militant atheist to play this guy? I mean, during interviews, every other word out of his mouth is an insult against the Church, God, and all that is right in the world. On top of this, he’s no better than the mob his sons are fighting. I mean, he was even part of the mob as a young man. If you’re going with consistency, the brothers should have killed him off as well….and if he’s such a good guy, why does he still kill people for the mob. I mean, yes, the mob got you out of jail. However, why do you want to kill the people the mob tells you to kill…. This fact is cemented in the Boondock Saints sequel, where we learn that he was originally a potential serial killer-turned-hit man. This guy seems to have some sort of psychological disorder that makes him want to kill people. What happened to overcoming a need for murder? What happened to “overcoming temptation” (a good Catholic quality)?  What happened to “Thou Shalt Not Kill?”

5.      Dialogue.
If you cussed like they cuss in this movie, you would break your mother’s heart…unless she happened to be a sailor and swear like one. Some of the swearing is just unnecessary and even immature at times…which really make me question Troy Duffy’s grasp of the English language beyond the 4 letter words at times. The extra scenes are also ridiculous. I mean, how am I supposed to believe that the brothers’ mother made them learn so many languages when she’s slurring her words and swearing up a storm when talking to her sons on the phone. A drunkard would never care to ensure their kid’s language skills. I know it was Saint Patrick’s Day in this scene….but come on. There was no need to turn the mother into a stereotypical “drunk and swearing Irishwoman.” It’s just ridiculous.

This movie on a scale from 1-10 (1 being LAME and 10 being awesome)…I give this movie 4. However, in the scenes preceding Rocco banding together with the brothers, this movie gets a 10.

In summation, if the Boondock Saints is a good, wholesome, Catholic movie...then 300 is a good, wholesome Greek Orthodox movie…
The look in his eyes says "....yeah, no."

 Sorry Fool for tearing up your movie. 

Pax Vobiscum.

10 comments:

  1. Very true with the three exceptions. 1. they do pray the rosary in every scene you see them in a church. You can not expect Troy Duffy to spend the entire movie watching them pray the rosary. The two times they are in a church you see them praying the rosary. 2.http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=80700 3. I do not remember hearing anything about their mother in the movie except that she insisted that they speak multiple languages so I do not know where you get the drunk assumption from.

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  2. Thanks for stopping by!

    Okay, I'm going a little out of order here...but...

    1/2. True as far as praying in every scene goes. Alas, there aren't many directors that would do this...praying the rosary throughout the movie would be a great example for Catholics everywhere...but would not result in a summer blockbuster. However, as far as wearing the rosary goes...I do see a lot of folk wearing rosaries these days. I'm more of a pocket rosary person myself. However, there is no meaning in this if you simply wear it. In this case it turns into little more than wearing beads on a string. It does not offer you any protection or serve as a sign of reverence if you simply treat it as a piece of jewelry. This movie, at times, makes it seem like the brothers do use it as little more than a prop. I feel that they treat it like a pair of socks (enter church, put on sock...exit church, take off sock). I feel that it should become more permanent if you base the movie on the idea that these guys are saints. I watch this movie and I can TOTALLY understand why they weren't able to find a willing Catholic church that would allow them to film a movie there. (They had to film the scenes in a Protestant church as far as I've read.)They do pray in the church. I'll give you that...but holding Rocco at gunpoint in a confessional (in a church!!!)kind of makes you question their piety. I give them props for defending the faith...but is it truly defending against blasphemy by doing the same thing?


    3. I suppose this is what happens when I include stuff from extra/extended scenes...my geekiness knows no limits. If you do watch the extra scenes (you're not missing much if you don't), you do see their mother...and she is not shown in a flattering manner (to put it lightly). It's pretty obvious why this scene did not make the final cut. 1. It would not make sense for her to suggest that her sons learn all those languages if she was a crass drunkard. 2. It makes the Irish look bad.

    Don't get me wrong, I do like the movie....but I cannot help but feel that it goes down hill as soon as Rocco is introduced.

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  3. "300" is not a Greek Protestant movie in its intention; it is about Old Gods, Hellenic Pantheon. Christ was not born when these deities reigned.

    The "Boondock Saints" reek of corrupt perversity to me, akin to porn.

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  4. "Harry Potter" is a Wiccan film; Tolkien wrote heavily on "faerie" lore, the dwellers of the plane direct above ours according to the D&D. And while all of these seem to me to be from "Light" side, the "Boondock Saints" appears to be aligned with the "Forces of Corruption" (both terms derived from Star Wars).

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  5. Thank you for stopping by!

    Comment 1 response:
    I used the 300 movie comparison as a form of sarcasm...as in "if the Boondock Saints is a good Catholic movie, then apples are oranges." Now, I don't want to be too much of a nit-picker...but since this is a Catholic blog...

    I'm not sure how I feel about how you worded your first comment. Christ, and the Nicene Creed can back me up on this, has always existed as far as the Catholic faith is concerned. Perhaps you did not mean for your comment to come across as it did...but I just want to avoid any confusion (not all my readers are Catholic).

    Comment 2 response:
    I don't know about planes and all that other good stuff (D&D?)...and I must be the only geek out there that isn't into Star Wars. However, as far as Harry Potter goes...

    Spells and wands aside, there are plenty of Christian themes in the Harry Potter books and even the movies. Unless they throw in the Wiccan rede in this last movie coming up, I wouldn't classify these movies as "Wiccan."

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  6. Madam,

    I know this is an old blog and I'm not sure if you'll get this note, but I feel it necessary to clear up a couple of things.

    This film was not meant to set an example for Catholics, it was entertainment. As you noted above, Duffy *does* show them praying - as much as anyone trying to make an action film would. Your peeves 2, 3, and 4 are fair enough, but why not enjoy the film for what it is, rather than taking it as an affront to your religion?

    As an Irishman brought up in the Church, I find it very judgmental for you to suggest that using swear words is harmful in some way. Regardless of our advanced education, my family and I use similar language all the time (though admittedly, you'll hear us say "feck" as opposed to the bad f word, most of the time) and have never done anyone harm by using it with each other. Additionally, my mother happens to be a hard-drinking Irishwoman who made sure that all of her kids -- there's 8 of us; what Irish family only has 2 kids? -- are at least uni educated and fluent in multiple languages. "A drunkard would never care to ensure their kid’s [sic] language skills." Who are you to make a statement like that?

    Lastly, I'm fairly sure that the "Rainbowsand" commenter above is off of their nut. I thought your reply was well written and well put.

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    1. Will,
      Thank you for taking the time to read the review and leaving your input.

      My apologies if I came across as judgmental. I just did a quick re-read of this post and am truly sorry if I upset or offended you.

      You are right, this movie hasn't been created to be an example for Catholics. However, it does tend to get marketed as such...and this movie may be the closest some people get to understanding Catholicism/Catholics...and that is what bothers me. Yes, it is just a movie and, to some degree, we should just enjoy it for what it is. However, we cannot always remain silent when something bothers us or throws punches at things that are important to us. (Would you ever approve of a movie if it directly made fun of a loved one? Well, that's how I feel about my faith.)

      Do I expect the sharing of my views to change how movies are made? No. However, I share them with the hopes that another perspective may be introduced (for people out there who will only get to know Catholicism through this film) and so that others, like you, may simply read another opinion about another movie.

      I hope you didn't get the impression that I judge families (Irish or no, alcohol or no, etc) in the same way that I rate movies. The typical person is a lot more complex than a typical character in the movie...and I always try to remember that I am not the only one with a cross to bear. With that said, I tend to be a lot less harsh in my judgment when it comes to people (I tend to go beyond just one second chance).

      When it comes to movies, I have the opportunity to become acquainted with something (story, character, etc) in its entirety (unless there are sequels in the future). As such, it becomes a lot easy for me to judge a movie based on the content provided. I too have occasionally let slip quite a few swear words in my day. However, you have to take a few things, besides just the words, into account when reading my thoughts on the swearing. The intention behind the words is one of them and this can be an affront to charity....which would be bad. This movie doesn't really have many filters when it comes to using certain language and while some of it may be funny...a good deal of it isn't very charitable.

      With regards to their mother in this movie, again...I based my judgment on what I saw in the movie and the extras. With that said, unless there are some flashback scenes that haven't been released...I cannot see how her character could have ever bothered to ensure that her children learned every language imaginable. The facets to her character that would have encouraged such a well-rounded education just weren't in the movie. I'm Portuguese and I can tell you that my large family has plenty of alcohol-loving people...but we are also a family/people that encourage learning, exploring, and good parenting. You would see this in a documentary that filmed us 24 hours a day...just as you would see these kinds of characteristics in your own family if you were filmed 24 hours a day. Granted, Boondock Saints isn't a 24hour/7days a week documentary...but very little was shown about their mother...but what little WAS shown, definitely did not show her in a good light....and made it very difficult for me to see her in a good light.

      I hope this clears things up a bit with regards to my thoughts. Again, I really don't mean to disrespect anyone out there if you come from particular situations/cultures/families/etc. I really appreciate your taking the time to express your thoughts and opinions.

      All the best,

      CSG

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  7. Great blog CSG and I appreciate the tone of your responses. I was 35 mini into this movie and was trying to decide whether or not to continue or maybe i was just wasting my life with it when I found this post. It was helpful to me to recognize that while it is vaguely amusing, nothing about this film was edifying, character building or helpful to cultivating my own sense of Catholic identity. (Im half irish half italian, so you can see Im already torn asunder hahaha) And even the gay bit where the guy puts down his love for being a "fag" was just a sad disgrace on top of another. Liek a celebration of gross use and disrespect. I have a pretty ruckus sense of humor and a well exercised wit and zeal for life, but thankfully as I am growing in my faith and hope and charity, thanks to your blog I could recognize that this film wasnt really gonna help and might even unintentionally hinder. Please God help me be a person of honor and peace, so that others may be so inspired to bring more light to our days... Peace and thanks to you!

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  8. Hey there. I just read and thought I would put my two cents in. (And not in my eyes.) But one key thing you are missing is that this was considered a calling from god. They use a few different religious practices in the movie and whether you are Catholic or not, they specifically state......Now you will receive us...!
    We do not ask for your poor or your hungry. We do not want your tired and sick. It is your Corrupt we claim...!

    It is your evil that will be saught by us. With every breath we shall hunt them down. Each day we will spill their blood till it rains down from the skies...!

    Do not Kill...
    Do not Rape...
    Do not Steal...

    These are principles, which every man of every faith can embrace. These are not polite suggestions, these are codes of behavior and those of you that ignore them will pay the dearest cost...!

    IMHO....I do not feel that Duffy was attempting to demeen anyone and being Irish....I certainly dont feel slighted. Hey! I like to drink and curse...doesn't mean I'm a bad person. I understand your pet peeves but its really just a movie. And a good one to boot. There are a lot of people in this world who feel that murderers, rapists, mafioso's, ect.. should just be killed. Someone had the balls to bring that to the big screen!! :-)

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  9. As a devout Roman Catholic, who is also in love with history, and human I feel it's a fine Catholic movie for three main reasons (amongst many others) 1. As Catholics we are suppose to be humble, and not judge, for even Jesus saw himself as not being free of sin. So who are we to judge the movie? That just shows yet again we are just flawed humans, and should leave the judging to God. And 2. Because I like I said am a devout Roman Catholic with plenty of my own hypocritical double standards, so I know I am not perfect. But at the same time if you look at it from a purely historical perspective neither is any organized religion including Catholicism. If you base Jesus off the historical evidence, as well as the Gospels you can see we are all far from following perfectly in God's path. And the light that Jesus represented, and tried to spread to the world. And as much as I love my church, and in recent years we do seem to be trying to atone for past sins, even with that being said the foundations on which The Catholic Church itself is built upon contradicts the teachings of Jesus, and pretty much all things related to Jesus. Short of the ability for redemption. So why should the movie have to live up to higher standards than The Catholic Church? And lastl, my third, and final reason is because if you are just basing it off of a checklist of whether, or not they followed enough Catholic protocol, and have enough Catholic criteria. I feel that they had just as much if not more than most "practicing Catholics" do in real life. I won't go into the examples since I assuming we all saw the movie since we're commenting on its quality, but as Catholics we know what was checked off, and what most Catholics in real life are like "my bad I didn't had have time to do that. (insert Catholic practice here lol) this week. I have been very busy." But anyways that is all just my humble God loving (not fearing, you shouldn't fear your creator who loves you enough to breathe life into you) opinion. Thanks for listening everyone! Now go out, and watch the movie, and form your own opinion! And God Bless everyone, and everything! :-)

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