Sexy Andy Garcia (WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN) heads an outstanding all-star cast in this riveting and highly original thriller! When a powerful mob boss (Christopher Walken -- PULP FICTION) gives ex-gangster Jimmy the Saint ... more »(Garcia) one last job, it's an offer he can't refuse! But when someone gets killed, Jimmy and his partners are marked for death, leaving Jimmy just 48 hours to put things right for his buddies and the woman of his dreams (beautiful Gabrielle Anwar -- SCENT OF A WOMAN)! Acclaimed by critics nationwide, THINGS TO DO IN DENVER WHEN YOU'RE DEAD delivers sensational edge-of-your-seat entertainment!« less
The Man With the Plan Buckwheats Jimmy the Saint and Friends
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/28/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Scott Rosenberg's script for "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" skates the edge big time in this 1995 film. There are times when what comes out of the mouth of his characters is on a par with Elmore Leonard and Quentin Tarrantino, but there are also moments when the verbiage becomes so dense that the film loses momentum. But whether you think that Rosenberg comes out ahead in the end or falls short, I can guarantee you that you will never forget what it means to "Buckwheat" somebody and that "Boat drinks" will sound like a great idea until the day you die.
The situation in "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" is that Jimmy the Saint (Andy Garcia) and his buddies know there time is coming to an end any moment. Jimmy runs a business where dying people get to videotape words of wisdom from beyond the grave to their loved ones. Throughout the film we get to see clips from such tapes, and if you do not know who is going to appear on the last one then you are not really thinking ahead on this one. This might be a good idea but it is a lousy business and Jimmy has been losing money and what he owes is now due to the Man With the Plan (Christopher Walken), a psychotic paraplegic who knows exactly how Jimmy can work out his debt.
A widower, the Man's son has been arrested for trying to molest a young girl on a school playground in broad daylight. The Man thinks that the son will get himself right again if only he can get back together with his old girlfriend, but she has a new boyfriend. Jimmy is order to pick up the boyfriend when he comes back to Denver and "brace" him. So Jimmy rounds up the old gang to do the deed and makes the mistake of picking Pieces (Christopher Lloyd), a projectionist at a porno theater who has lost a couple of digits to leprosy, and Critical Bill (Treat Williams), a psycho who has not beaten up a live person in years because he blows off steam by pummeling corpses, out front.
Suffice it to say that things go wrong, horribly wrong ((if you see parallels between this film and "Reservoir Dogs" I should point out that director Gary Fleder made a point of telling people that Rosenberg's script was written long before Tarrantino's film was made). This is why Jimmy and the boys are dead because the Man is going to have them killed. And not just killed. The famous hit man Mister Shhh (Steve Buscemi) is coming to town to not only kill the boys, but "Buckwheat" them (short version: lots of pain and suffering before death). Fortunately, we do not get to see too much of the actual Buckwheating, but the idea of it is enough to make you start cringing every time another one of the gang goes down for the long count.
Beyond the obvious complication that Jimmy feels bad about causing the imminent deaths of his friends, which he tries to do something about without success, he has a couple of romantic entanglements. Jimmy has just fallen for Dagney (Gabrielle Anwar), making sure there was as little time between their first and second date (because there is no kissing on the first date), and he knows that the Man knows about her. But Jimmy also has a soft spoke for Lucinda (Fairuza Balk), who might be a hooker but he does not like it when johns take advantage of her, especially now that she is pregnant.
We have no reason to believe that Jimmy can get out of Denver let along the end of this movie alive. The rules of the game are too clearly established here, and there is a retired gangster at the local diner (Jack Warden) who helps to fill in the gaps. The question is whether Jimmy can put together some sort of moral victory before the lights go out, and while there are certainly moments when this film is too damn cute for its own good, I appreciate it when a character listens to me screaming at him what he has to do to payback the Man before the end and actually does it.
It took me a while to get around to this one, but it is nice to see that Rosenberg has shown surer footing nearing the edge in the scripts he has written since then for "Con Air" and "High Fidelity." Fleder has gone on to direct "Kiss the Girls" and "Runaway Jury," both of which are improvements on this effort as well. "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" is not a first level example of the modern film noir, but it aspires to be and it has some moments. Plus, you have Christopher Walken showing how menacing he can be when nothing works below the neck, which is certainly good for something as well. "
Andy Garcia's best performance among a stellar cast.
Joel Munyon | Joliet, Illinois - the poohole of America. | 09/04/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I often wonder if director's purposely set out to cast as many eccentrics as possible. We've seen it when Abel Ferrara cast Willem Dafoe and Chris Walken in New Rose Hotel, combining seemingly two of the most bizarre actors in Hollywood. And don't forget At Close Range, which combined Crispin Glover and Walken. Also, Steve Buscemi and Walken were together in Pulp Fiction. Are you noticing a common element? That's right: Walken.
He's here in a bit, but pivotal, role as a mob boss who employs reformed former associate Jimmy "The Saint"(Garcia), nicknamed The Saint due to his former aspirations to be a priest, to do a simple "action." Well, Jimmy and his crew screw up BIG TIME and the crime boss, known on the streets as the "man with the plan", tells Jimmy to leave town or else.....
Jimmy has a moral conflict due to the fact that "the man with the plan" resfuses to offer Jimmy's crew the same mercies. Things gradually digress, with Jimmy's crew finding themselves the victims of a progression of assassinations at the hands of one Steve Buscemi, known here as Mr. Shhh.
A very good film with many name-brand actors. Andy Garcia does a phenomenal job here, a job that is the best I've seen from him - ever. Here's a list of actors from this film that you'll either know by name of by face.
Andy Garcia Christopher Walken Don Cheadle Steve Buscemi Jenny McCarthy Christopher Lloyd - yep, Doc Brown himself Gabrielle Anwar - best known as Chris O'Donnel's fling in Scent of A Woman Jack Warden - Big Al from Problem Child Treat Williams - Bill Pulman lookalike Fairuza Balk - Vicky Valencourt from The Water Boy William Forsythe - Flatop from Dick Tracy, also plays cops a lot, as he did in The Devil's Rejects.
Between Balk, Buscemi, Walken, Forsythe, and Lloyd, Gary Fleder has grouped a collection of some of the most bizarre character actors in Hollywood. The affect is fun, though, as you see many faces and names amid this tremendous screenplay and plot.
This is one of the more underrated films I've ever seen. The only problem with this film is that is came out in 1995, not a good year for a film to try to shine with films like Heat, Leaving Las Vegas, Casino, Seven,and The Usual Suspects gaining much attention in terms of the crime/city genre. "
GREAT FILM NAMES, GREAT PACE.
Gregory Saffady | Michigan | 06/11/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"They must have liked the script and great characters as Jimmy The Saint, Franchise, E-Z Winn and Mr. Shush. Andy Garcia, Christopher Walken, Steve Buscemi and others decided to forego their usual paydays to act in this now indie classic. THINGS TO DO IN DENVER is a great paced, extremely likeable film. The most fervent work is turned in by Treat Williams, as psychotic Critical Bill, and the major cool, Walken as the wheelchair bound, Man With The Plan (Jenny McCarthy as his nurse). Jack Warden old-pros his way by semi-narrating the tale of a group of misbegotten criminals and their impending doom. I'd buy at the Thick 'N' Rich anyday. Boat drinks all around!"
Well worth 5 stars
krakaskula | Hollywood, CA | 03/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am not going to delve into great details as many reviewers have already done so, but I will agree with most that this movie was well done and definitely worth adding to your dvd collection, if not at least seeing. I am hard pressed to recall how I originally heard about it, newspaper review possibly, but based on that alone I knew I had to catch this limited release screening. I do recall when this movie initially released it seemed as if it was already relegated to "cult" status because it opened with very little fanfare, in very limited locations, and only for a short viewing period. My wife and I saw it before we were married at a lesser known theater in Hollywood, not on the strip, where it was only playing for the weekend. As we walked out when it was over we were so blasted by what we had just seen we carefully scanned the street for suspicious looking cars that might contain tommy-gun weilding hitmen and then ran to our car!
All that said love this movie, get it, buy it, rent it, see it!"
A belated surprise
S. Smith | Modesto, CA United States | 03/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm more than a little ashamed to admit that it took me 9 years to get around to seeing this movie. And I consider myself a lover of this type of pic. I just had a hard time coming across it in the usual retail outlets. But, alas I find the movie and I have to say it's just great....Sure, the dialogue does try to force feed some one liners and catchphrases at you..."Boat Drinks" and "Buckwheats" being just a couple...If you can somehow avoid cringing everytime they are less than smoothly inserted into the conversations, all the better. Andy Garcia does a good job of giving this movie an emotional and moral core, as the man straddling the line between good and evil, his past and his future all at once. Treat Williams gives an astounding performance as a complete loon. All in all everyone does well here. One must question the wisdom of Garcia's character allowing the oldest and the most unstable of the crew to perform the most demanding part of their seemingly simple task. Garcia himself and Winn would have been much better in that instance. O well, quibble I must, but I suppose if more capable hands (no pun intended) had done the job, this would have been a rather short movie.. But it's a great movie nonethe less. Flashes of brilliance, even."