Saint John of Las Vegas

Just looking at hangdog Steve Buscemi and perky Sarah Silverman as mismatched lovers is a kick. What a comedy team these two virtuosos of the comically perverse could have made if they weren't stuck in the shambles that is Saint John of Las Vegas. First-time director and screenwriter Hue Rhodesshows no discernible talent for dialogue, humor and, especially,pacing. For a movie than runs a mere 85 minutes, Saint John moves like a life sentence in molasses prison.

Buscemi plays John Alighieri (same last name as Dante's), a gambling junkie trying to take the cure by taking a nowhere job in an insurance company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Just as he's settling into an eccentricromance with the cutie (Silverman) in the next cubicle, John is sent on the road by his boss (Peter Dinklage) to investigate an alleged fraud involving a totaled car and a stripper (Emmanuelle Chriqui) in a neck brace and a wheelchair. That would be fine if his destination wasn't Vegas — Kryptonite for a reformed gamer — and if his partner wasn't Virgil (Romany Malco), a claims adjuster determined to take John through nine circles of hell that Dante himself would blanch at. Still, watching Buscemi at a cowboy nudist camp, a carnival shooting gallery or just getting gaga over Silverman almost makes it bearable.

From The Archives Issue 137: June 21, 1973