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Movie Review: St. John of Las Vegas

February 5, 2010

St. John of Las Vegas – A KinoSmith Release

Release Date: February 5th, 2009

Rated 14A for coarse language, nudity and mild sexual references

Running time: 85 minutes

Hue Rhodes (dir.)

Hue Rhodes (writer)

Dante Alighieri (based on a story, Dante’s Inferno)

David Torn (music)

Steve Buscemi as John

Romany Malco as Virgil

Sarah Silverman as Jill

Peter Dinklage as Mr. Townsend

Tim Blake Nelson as Ned

Steve Buscemi and Romany Malco in St. John of Las Vegas

Our reviews below:


St. John of Las Vegas Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

St. John of Las Vegas has already been receiving mixed reviews. My name is John, and I enjoyed this movie. Steve Buscemi holds together the film, making all the sideshow acts actually fit together into a strange little package. St. John of Las Vegas is not a great movie, but I thought it was a pretty good one. Though not every moment works on the same level, it’s got some funny set pieces, and some very nice moments with supporting actors Peter Dinklage and Sarah Silverman.

St. John of Las Vegas opens with John Alighieri, (wonderfully played by Steve Buscemi), investing $1000 in 1000 lotto tickets. These are flash forwards in a fractured narrative. John works for an insurance company. When he is promoted to the level of fraud detection, he has to go to Vegas to try and prove whether or not a stripper really had an accident that put her in a wheelchair.

People have been unfairly comparing it to something from the Coen Brothers, mainly just because it mirrors Dante’s Inferno in a similar way that O Brother, Where Art Thou? mirrored The Odyssey. With a Coen Brothers film you can continue to find the symbolism in it long after you’ve seen it. I don’t think there is much symbolism going on in this film. You’ll like it more if you don’t go in expecting Coen Brothers brilliance, but rather just a quirky little film.

This is a road-trip movie. Though the road doesn’t quite lead anywhere other than a series of side-show characters, I still had a fun time taking this trip. Plus, its got a clever twist that I didn’t see coming. It’s worth seeing for Steve Buscemi’s starring role.

It’s exactly what I expected from the trailers, and I think the people who buy a ticket are going to enjoy it. Not one that you have to rush out and see, but one worth checking out.


St. John of Las Vegas Review By Erin V.

**1/2 (out of 4)

St. John of Las Vegas is a crazy comedy about a compulsive gambler, (Steve Buscemi), who after moving from Las Vegas and his temptation, works at a Insurance Fraud Investigation company in New Mexico.

Trouble is, as he moves up the ranks, eventually he is called to investigate fraud in, you guessed it, Las Vegas. So, he goes across the country by car with another, more senior investigator, Virgil. They are to investigate a suspicious car crash involving an exotic dancer who was oddly hit from behind in the middle of the desert…

Along the way, they meet a bunch of strange characters from the people who run junkyards, to a group of (almost) naked naturists who guard a wildlife reserve from outside objects – (which I found to make for an odd, yet funny scene) – like the car that they traverse the desert in.

I found the movie to be entertaining enough, if mostly for the fact of how well Steve Buscemi plays the role. I would recommend seeing St. John of Las Vegas for the acting by him, as well as some of the supporting roles, like in particular, that of his boss, (Peter Dinklage), and love interest, (Sarah Silverman). This being said, it would hold up just as well on DVD, so I’d say you could wait for rental if it interests you.


St. John of Las Vegas Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

St. John of Las Vegas is a quirky comedy and mystery story. The title character, John, is a fraud investigator for an insurance company. He is attracted to his co-worker, Jill, who loves to collect happy face paraphernalia, whom the arrogant boss, Mr. Townsend, has been with before.

John is sent on a mission with another investigator, Virgil, to find out clues about how a Las Vegas exotic dancer got injured in a car crash while driving through the desert. Trouble is, John is a compulsive gambler, and is reluctant to go where he will be tempted.

John and Virgil’s mission involves dealing with some rather strange people, including a flaming carnival man and a group of armed nudists. (Some people may be offended by the nudists, as they are seen “full monty”). The journey leads to a surprising twist at the end.

St. John of Las Vegas is a funny movie. Steve Buscemi is really good as John. St. John of Las Vegas is worth checking out.


St. John of Las Vegas Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

St. John of Las Vegas is an off the wall, comedy about two not so above board insurance fraud investigators in Nevada. Steve Buscemi is really fun to watch as John Alighieri, a compulsive gambler who is trying really hard to hold down a job in insurance fraud investigation and impress his happy faced co-worker/girlfriend, Jill (Sarah Silverman).

The fun begins when the company boss, Mr. Townsend (Peter Dinklage) pairs John up with Virgil (Romany Malco) to do an investigation of a now wheelchair bound stripper supposedly injured in a car accident outside Las Vegas. Virgil and John head out on a crazy road trip that puts them in the path of gun-toting nudists, strippers, a human torch, and other oddities and dangers. But things never are as they seem to be when it comes to fraud as John eventually figures out.

What makes St. John of Las Vegas watchable is the strong cast, particularly Steve Buschemi, Sarah Silverman, Peter Dinklage and Romany Malco also deliver fun to watch performances.

This is by no means a serious movie. Much of the comedy is silly and unnecessary. However this is still an entertaining way to spend 85 minutes. If you like Steve Buschemi, St. John of Las Vegas is worth checking out, either in theatres or on DVD.


St. John of Las Vegas Review By Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

We first meet John (Steve Buscemi) in a Nevada gas bar minimart, flirting with a cashier half his age as he takes $1000 in cash from an envelope to buy lottery tickets. He narrates his recent story in a series of flashbacks. As a recovering Las Vegas gambling addict, John had moved a tank of gas away to Albuquerque, taking an entry position with an auto insurance company. He continued to play a few lottery tickets but was able to maintain a modest home and begin a romance with colleague Jill (Sarah Silverman). Seeing potential in him as a fraud investigator, his boss (Peter Dinklage) sent John back to Las Vegas with his best agent Virgil (Romany Malco) to check out an alleged accident involving the stripper Tasty D Lite (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and a Buick Wildcat. Along the way they run into a strange assortment of characters, including intimidating chop shoppers (Danny Trejo, Stephen Eiland), nighttime naturists in a “burning man” type desert compound (Tim Blake Nelson et al), and a carnival human torch (John Cho).

As the debut feature for writer/director Hue Rhodes, with writing credit and the title character’s surname shared by Dante Alighieri, Saint John of Las Vegas may suffer in comparison with another classically inspired film like O Brother Where Art Thou. However, with its quirky storyline and strong cast to match, it can be enjoyed on its own terms. Steve Buscemi is perfect as the unlikely leading man and his relationship with Virgil is in the great tradition of black/white buddy films going back at least to Silver Streak. Sarah Silverman is sweet and quirky. As a driven executive obsessed with his own motivational videos, Peter Dinklage is hilarious without ever getting up from behind his desk for a cheap gag about stature.

Though it is uneven, Saint John of Las Vegas has enough laughs with interesting characters in strange situations to be worth a look.


Sarah Silverman in St. John of Las Vegas


Consensus: St. John of Las Vegas is a quirky and funny little film. Though every moment does not work on the same level, it’s worth seeing for Steve Buscemi, Sarah Silverman and Peter Dinklage. **1/2 (Out of 4)


Peter Dinklage in St. John of Las Vegas

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