Rated R for language and some nudity, 85 minutes
Unlucky and unfunny "St. John of Las Vegas"
One of my favorite all-time movie lines comes from Clint Eastwood's "Dirty Harry" as he stands over a criminal with a huge gun and says "Are 'ya feelin' lucky, punk?" Luck is the main premise of the new low-budget independent comedy "St. John of Las Vegas" and unfortunately, the uneven film is unfunny in spite of the presence of Steve Buscemi, whose looks alone often inspire a comic presence, and comedian Sarah Silverman.
Buscemi plays John, a former compulsive gambler who fled Las Vegas for a better life working for an insurance company in Albuquerque, except he doesn't have much of a life. He has a crush on his co-worker Jill (Silverman), who has been having an affair with the shady owner of the company (Peter Dinklage). Since John is wanting to move up in the company, the owner assigns him a task of investigating a fraudulant claim with veteran fraudulant claim investigator Virgil ("Weeds" Romany Malco), who clearly has other things on his mind. The task is obviously new territory for John, and the whole process will either make or break him.
"St. John of Las Vegas" is a mildly funny but scattershot, often tediously quirky comedy that is fortunate to have Buscemi, or it'd be a total waste. It's a decent effort from first-time feature director Hue Rhodes, who's only experience to now has been with short films and his inexperience in setting up scenes is a painfully awkward one. Sometimes he cuts scenes too short or lets them go on way too long, and the bad editing job only reveals the thin material and wildly disjointed script.
Buscemi is a talented actor who's far better than the material allows, and his engaging performance is the best thing about the film. Malco is a decent actor in a woefully underwritten, unrevealing part, and Silverman plays against type in a bubbly but unnecessary role. Dinklage is a fine comic actor (he reprises his role in the upcoming remake "Death at a Funeral") who's given little to do, though the one scene he shares with Buscemi is a humorous one.
The film picks up a little in the last act, but otherwise there's little going in "St. John of Las Vegas" and most of it isn't that funny (the best scene: Buscemi in a brief scene playing cards). Are 'ya feeling lucky? Not so much after seeing this movie.