Reviews, Reports + Comments

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Review of film: “ST. JOHN OF LAS VEGAS”

2010, 01-26;  Reviewed 02-10-10:

Review of film:  ST. JOHN OF LAS VEGAS


Hue Rhodes


Hue Rhodes


Steve Buscemi
Romany Malco
Sarah Silverman
Peter Dinklage
Tim Blake Nelson
John Cho                 
Emmanuelle Chriqui
Isabel Archuleta
Josh Berry
Lucas CorVatta
Gorneth D'Oyley
Stephen Eiland
Jesse Garcia

MPAA Rating:

R for language and some nudity.


[Tagline in ad:]  “…There’s more than one way to hit the jackpot in life.”
“Good times.”
“I used to be lucky.”
“I have the best seat in the house.”
“We’re in the business of NOT paying fraudulent claims.”
“It’s one hell of a ride.”
“Yeah--  I’m a ‘lonely’ guy, looking for happiness.”
“Same thing.”
“That was quick.”
“I am not lucky.”

MY Rating:

6 of 10 stars (based on an advance screening of the 85-minute film).

There’s NOT much “Sin in the “City” (or in the Country, for that matter)

I can sum up this movie in three words:  NOTHING much “happens”…  For those of you eager for more details, here they are:

…  Compulsive gamblers can find far wiser places to live than Las Vegas.  But, that describes John (STEVE BUSCEMI) & where he used to live.  After a period of especially bad luck, he decides to try living a more normal life, and leaves Vegas for Albuquerque, New Mexico--  still gambling via loads of LOTTERY tickets bought at convenience stores as he drives around…

…  Thinking it could be helpful to have a reasonably “stable” job, he takes one in an auto insurance company--  & isn’t very successful at avoiding the regular temptations of constantly-available LOTTO tickets around town… 

…  At one point, Steve’s boss, Mr. Townsend (PETER DINKLAGE), asks him to join Virgil (ROMANY MALCO)  -- his main fraud-exposer -- in investigating an expected “ripoff” accident claim concerning a 1970 Buick Wildcat in the Vegas area…

…  Steve is NOT eager to go back to Sin City, because of dual temptations: the omnipresent gambling opportunities there, & the fear of leaving (& possibly losing) a new romance he has in ‘Querque with a nutty colleague in his office named Jill (SARAH SILVERMAN)…

…  As fate (& Indie features) would have it, Steve & Romany meet a bunch of “eccentric” characters as they do their investigating, including the suspected fraudster herself, stripper “Tasty D Lite” (EMMANUELLE CHRIQUI), who’s confined to a wheelchair… 

…  Romany is in tight control of the purse-strings on the trip, & very “tight” with those strings as Steve tries to get “per-diem” payments.  It seems sort of “odd” that Romany wants inexperienced STEVE to be the “lead” at doing the “grunt” work in their research…

…  Some of the other “unusual” people they meet include a militaristic guy named Ned (TIM BLAKE NELSON) who likes going around NAKED at a fiery “gate” in the desert, a Ranger in a park (JESSE GARCIA), and a “hot” guy playing a “Human TORCH” in a carnival (JOHN CHO

…  Romany’s supposed to be the “lead” in the car crash research, but Steve finally starts becoming “self-confident” (and/or “disgusted”) & takes the lead in the matter… 

…  But questions keep arising, such as:  WHY is Romany having Steve be the “principal” in their work, & is “blackmail” involved?…  Why does Sarah keep eagerly contacting Steve by phone?…  What’s the “point” of the numerous so-called “DREAM” sequences with Steve?…

…  Sadly, there ISN’T much “point” in most of this film (despite a “twist” near the end):  It often comes across mostly as a quirky actingexercise, an “easy” way to make some “quick” money…

…  I can’t really call it a “comedy”, because it ISN’T really “funny” (tho it has some very mild comedic “elements” such as the “Flame Lord” played by Cho)…  The “drama” is weak & “convoluted”, at best… 

…  It’s not that it’s “horrible”:  the actors are decent & seem to be having some “FUN” with what they’re doing (probably more than you will WATCHING them, I’m afraid)… 

…  I think it’d be a “stretch” to describe this film as a parable about how even “losers” MIGHT get “lucky” in life:  the writing is so feeble & the “plot” so inherently THIN, I just had to wonder “WHY” it was made… 

…  Afterwards, my overall feeling was simply a resigned “Oh, well…”

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