Bristol Deserves Better
Bristol Boys, 2006
Which one of you said I should review Connecticut movies? Because whoever you are, your suggestion then led to a friend making me aware of the 2006 independent film, Bristol Boys. And now I’m just mad at you all.
Because this movie suuuuuuuuuuucks.
The whole movie and some of the “special features” are just really, really weird. It was written and directed by Brandon David. Brandon David used to be Brandon David Cole of Bristol Eastern High School. Back then, he was friends with a kid named Kevin Toolen. Kevin Toolen is the real-life guy portrayed as a drug dealer in the movie.
The film is based on one of biggest drug busts of Connecticut’s Statewide Narcotics Task Force, which included the arrest of Toolen and his drug network in 2001. I didn’t know the director was friends with these felons when I watched it, but the whole time I was wondering why the dealers were being portrayed as heroes and the cops were the bad guys. Not in a fun way either.
In fact, in an interview around the time of the movie’s release – special premier at the Plainville Loews! – the director was clear to say that the crimes were “alleged” and the police were “overzealous.” The state police (and the guilty verdicts) disagree.
Despite having real actors whose names you probably don’t recognize (Will Janowitz and Max Casella of The Sopranos fame star in the film, as do Dean Winters and David Zayas from Oz), the film’s budget was around $500,000. Plenty of good movies have been made for that sum, but this is not one of them.
The lead character – a dealer named Michael “Little Man” McCarthy, and portrayed by Thomas Guiry of “Mystic River” – is based on Kevin Toolen, and his ascent from small time pot dealer to big time coke dealer (and user.) At first he’s resistant to dealing the hard stuff, but is finally convinced when he sees the money to be made.
There’s a strip club, of course. And the overly emotional stripper girlfriend. Of course. The addict mom. Of course. The drug binges and the police informant friend. Of course.
Oh, and they murder the informant. (Which didn’t happen in real life, although as I’ve said, the absolute weirdest part of this movie is the secondary track which features Toolen himself and one of his crew. They are entirely unrepentant, seem to revel in their criminal debauchery, and while clear the murder is fictional, they don’t say that it shouldn’t happen. This dude spent time in prison! Now, granted, the “War on Drugs” in the US is an idiotic decades-long waste of resources and money, but still. Dude. I’m sure he hurt a lot of people.)
Toolen actually only spent a few months in prison which means that the other 20 people arrested probably didn’t spend any time there. Which means that this whole “massive central Connecticut drug ring” thing probably was pretty small time.
Despite the fact that all of the events in this movie took place in Bristol, aside from one shot of a “Bristol Town Line” sign, nothing else is recognizable as the city. A city that the hometown director, in publicity materials for the film, he called an “industrial wasteland.”
This movie is terrible.
CTMQ Rating: 1 out of 5 thumbs up
Connecticutness: 154 out of 169 Nutmegs
Filmed in Connecticut? Some of it, yes, but mostly in Springfield, MA
Wealthy Caucasian with a Big House? No