' ' Cinema Romantico: Saint John Of Las Vegas

Monday, February 15, 2010

Saint John Of Las Vegas

Yeah, Las Vegas is filled to the brim with those luxurious, cavernous casinos resembling resorts more than gambling facilities - the MGM Grand and the Bellagio and so on and so forth - but Las Vegas is also packed with the grubby, off-the-beaten path casinos that still have the shag carpeting from the 70's and the fake wood wallpaper and a dealer who may or may not be drunk. But the end result is pretty much always the same, right? You sit down at the roulette table and lose all your chips and leave feeling busted.

Hue Rodes' (writer & director) film takes all your chips and leaves you feeling busted but does it in such a lackluster, uninteresting way. Steve Buscemi, always dependable, is John Alighieri, a guy with, as he tells us in a rather insipid voiceover, bad luck who used to live in Vegas, and now has a "good" job as an insurance claims adjuster. His cubicle is parked next to the voluptuous Jill (Sarah Silverman) who dresses like a trashy astronaut's wife and is obsessed with smiley faces. She's kinda having a fling, though, with their boss, Mr. Townsend (Peter Dinklage), a subplot arisen and then forgotten, who calls John into his office and advises he is going to get a try-out in the fraud investigation division with the glowering Virgil (Romany Malco). It seems a stripper (Emmanuelle Chriqui) is claiming her car was rear ended in the desert and she was injured. Mr. Townsend isn't buying it.

It becomes a road movie with two guys who aren't really buddies as they travel through the desert and, finally, to Sin City, the place from which John fled so many years ago. But to what point and purpose? "Saint John Of Las Vegas" is a classic case of a film failing to pay attention to its whole self while obsessing over its perceived quirkiness.

Sarah Silverman and her bounds of smiley faces (on her desk, on the walls, on her fingernails) and Smitty The Flame Lord (John Cho, which I didn't realize during the movie) whose protective suit has gone haywire and shoots flames every 20 seconds and a bunch of naked guys in the desert led by Tim Blake Nelson and on and on and on. "Hey, Romany, wouldn't it be funny if you sat naked in bed watching TV and eating chips so that the chip bag is blocking your junk?" "Uh....would it?" How does all this factor into our main character's plight? You do remember our main character?

The film purports to being based on "Dante's Inferno". Oh, please. Not that it isn't "based on" that story, per se, but get yourself a gaggle of Cliffs Notes and you can pretty much "base" anything on whatever you want, can't you? The idea itself does not automatically generate cleverness.

Occasionally, Buscemi manages to put those infamous bug eyes of his to good use and he induces us into wondering if perhaps this weary claims adjuster really is descending into some soutwestern American hell but those moments are few and far between. Never ever has a last line of a film felt so unearned nor rung so apallingly hollow.

1 comment:

Castor said...

I had a free screening to that movie but the trailer really did nothing for me. Guess I didn't miss too much :/