I think it’s fair to say that Saint John of Las Vegas (2009) was a bit of a damp squib when it was released, scoring a measly 24% at Rotten Tomatoes*, and bringing in a paltry $100,000 at the domestic box office (against a budget of $2 million). So, there’s no point in me pretending it’s a masterpiece, by any measure… but as lame ducks go, I think it has enough off-beat charm and warmth to make me want to nurse it back to health, rather than put it down. Of course, I’m a little biased by how cute Sarah Silverman looks here, as the hero’s smiley-obsessed love-interest ‘Jill’… who proves to be a genuinely adorable and admirable character, by the story’s end.** It’s also fun to see Steve Buscemi and Peter Dinklage sharing the screen again after all these years, as a luckless insurance claim investigator and his douche-y boss/love-rival, respectively. In fact, Buscemi has a top-notch cast supporting him, including Romany Malco as his miserly mentor, Tim Blake Nelson as a buck-naked luddite, John Cho as a carnie with a malfunctioning “human flame” suit, and Emmanuelle Chriqui as a wheelchair-bound lap-dancer.
True, the story is far too shaggy, and I’ll admit to feeling a little deflated once all its cards were on the table… but this flick is such a treasure trove of eye-catching images and quirky character-details, that I’ve already added it to my “to buy” list, so I can watch it again (though it won’t actually be released on DVD in the UK until this December!).
* The audience score currently stands at 28%, which is even more damning.
** Weirdly, the UK DVD cover describes her character as “overbearing”, even though she’s actually very sweet and accepting… I mean, she’s a little bossy in the final scene, but it’s made blatantly obvious throughout the film that Buscemi’s character has a gambling problem, so she’s really being the good kind of “bossy”. I wish I had a woman like that keeping me in line!