Connor (Sean Patrick Flannery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus), the so-called “Boondock Saints,” are cool. It’s easy to see how cool they are because of how they wear matching black jackets. They have matching crucifixes hanging around their highly religious, Irish Catholic necks, too. Also, they frequent South-Bostonian landmarks where they smoke and alternatingly speak any one of the seven or so languages in which they are fluent. Cool.
While the credits are still rolling, we are introduced to the new hire at the meat packing plant where the Saints work. She is big, has a nose ring, is tattooed and anyone who looks at her just knows she’s going to be trouble. For instance, when Connor is kindly explaining one of her new duties and begins with the common expression “…the rule of thumb…,” we just know she is going to start spouting off about how, “in the early 1900s, it was legal for men to beat their wives as long as they used a stick no wider than their thumbs.”
Now, of course, I have already been making fun of the film because of its obvious silliness, but, perhaps that’s simply because I was unaware that an urban legend involving the phrase “rule of thumb” actually does exist. Now, had I known this, I might have understood that, when Connor says this to the “fat lesbian” Rosengurtle Baumgartener (Dot Jones), he actually is taunting her. That would better explain why she ends up punching him and kicking his privates.
However, the entry for “rule of thumb” at Wikipedia points out that, while there is some reason to believe that people have used the term in the past when referring to wife-beating, there are concrete examples of more logical origins that clearly predate all others.
Why, though, would anybody watching this fun-loving romp about a couple of meat packers-turned-vigilantes waste precious time and energy to address only the origin of an expression used at the beginning of the movie? That’s a good question, reader. The kind answer is that, unless you are a die-hard Willem Dafoe fan, this movie should not top your must-see list. (Really, even the hardest-to-die of Dafoe fans should get this one only when very, very desperate.)
The antidote to The Boondock Saints is simply to stick with Tarantino for wittier, richer dialogue; better performances; and a better overall film that can be watched without its audience fearing a terrible clobbering from an apprentice’s enormous fists o’ ham.